Bayern Munich’s Daniel Van Buyten during a training session
Two of the three German teams in Champions League group stage action this week go head-to-head this Saturday in Gelsenkirchen, as Schalke 04 play host to Bayern Munich at 15h30 (CAT) at the Veltins Arena in a Bundesliga match.
Both sides have started well into the season, with the Royal Blues one of four sides on seven points, two shy of pace-setting duo Eintracht Frankfurt and Bayern themselves. While the men from Munich were also hitting the headlines with some spectacular new signings over the summer, Schalke’s current transfer policy is studiously low-key.
Huub Stevens’s young team has nonetheless already shown that their hunger for success has not diminished in the slightest as a result and this will undoubtedly be Bayern’s toughest domestic challenge to date.
Bastian Schweinsteiger will be pivotal for Die Rotten in this fixture. The dynamic midfielder makes the difference in Bayern whenever he is on the field with his tireless work-rate and intelligent distribution.
Young German playmaker Lewis Holtby has quite simply been in fantastic form over the last few months with his performances for both Schalke and Germany’s Under-21s, scoring a string of great goals and running the midfield show for Huub Stevens’ side.
He has well and truly stepped into the void that departed Spaniard Raul left at the Veltins Arena, and has a golden opportunity to justify the recent links with the likes of Arsenal as his side gear up for his biggest match of the season.
Schalke are winless against Bayern in their last three meetings. In this corresponding fixture last season, the Schalke fans jeered former stars Manuel Neuer and Rafinha, who both made their first appearances as in red at the Veltins Arena, but much to the dismay of the home supporters the duo enjoyed a convincing performance from the Bavarians as they won 2-0 through the boots of Nils Petersen and Thomas Muller.