Bayern Munich host Schalke in a must-win Bundesliga game

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Leon Goretzka #18 of Bayern Munich and Guido Burgstaller #19 of FC Schalke 04 battle for the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern Muenchen at Veltins-Arena on September 22, 2018 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)
GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 22: Leon Goretzka #18 of Bayern Munich and Guido Burgstaller #19 of FC Schalke 04 battle for the ball during the Bundesliga match between FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern Muenchen at Veltins-Arena on September 22, 2018 in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images) /
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Bayern Munich host FC Schalke 04 on Saturday on the 21st match day of the Bundesliga season and need a big win against the Royal Blues.

Bayern Munich responded quickly after their horror show against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. Their midweek performance against Hertha Berlin was a good improvement, but there are still some glaring problems Niko Kovac must solve. The Croatian will be hoping his players deliver an even better performance on Saturday when they host Schalke in the Bundesliga.

Bayern slipped to third place in the Bundesliga after their defeat against Bayer Leverkusen. The defending champions still remain seven points behind Borussia Dortmund, though, thanks to their draw against Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend. Kovac has urged his players to eliminate their defensive errors, as they cannot afford any more slip-ups in the league.

Schalke, meanwhile, are enduring a tough season after a brilliant ’17-18 campaign. They are currently sitting 12th in the league with a cushion of seven points above the relegation places. They have won only two games of their past five games in the Bundesliga. The visitors will be hoping they can get their season back on track with a positive result against Bayern on Saturday.

Team News

Bayern Munich will be without Arjen Robben once again, as the Dutch winger has suffered a setback in his recovery from a thigh injury. The Dutchman had returned to first-team training last week, but he was feeling pain in his thigh just before the game against Hertha Berlin. His return date is still unknown.

Manuel Neuer started training with the first team this week after injuring his right-hand last week. The German goalkeeper will miss the game against Schalke, though as Bayern do not want to take any risk with him ahead of the game against Liverpool next week. Renato Sanches will be back in the squad tomorrow after missing out on Wednesday due to an ankle injury.

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Predicted XI

Bayern Munich have some important games coming up in the next ten days. These fixtures will test the strength of the squad, as Kovac will have to make some slight rotations. However, after a defeat against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, expect Kovac to field his best lineup. Sven Ulreich will keep his place in goal in Neuer’s absence. Niklas Sule and Mats Hummels will maintain their center-back partnership, while Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba are likely to be the full-backs.

Thiago Alcantara is the most adaptable midfield player in the Bayern squad. He has thrived in the number six role under Kovac and is expected to play in the same position on Saturday. Leon Goretzka has been in fine form as well, and he will continue to provide some tenacity to Die Roten’s midfield.

James Rodriguez showed signs of his best form on Wednesday, and Kovac is likely to keep faith in the Colombian attacking midfielder against Schalke. The former Real Madrid midfielder is likely to be surrounded by Thomas Muller and Serge Gnabry in the final third. Robert Lewandowski will lead the attacking line for the home side.

"UlreichKimmich-Sule-Hummels-AlabaThiago-GoretzkaMuller-James-GnabryLewandowski"

Opposition Focus

Bayern have surprisingly struggled at home in the Bundesliga this season. They had to work hard in their last home game to clinch a win over Stuttgart. Teams have been punishing the Bavarians on the counter this season, so Schalke are likely to approach this game in a similar manner.

The visitors have some exciting talent in their current squad. Nabil Bentaleb and Daniel Caligiuri are their most threatening players from midfield. The duo has contributed to seven goals in the league this season. Mark Uth will be the focal point of Schalke’s attack and could cause a lot of problems to Bayern’s defense from set pieces.

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Prediction

Bayern Munich 3-1 Schalke

Bayern responded pretty well against Hertha Berlin after a poor defeat against Bayer Leverkusen last weekend. The defense remains a concern for Die Roten, so I do not expect them to keep a clean sheet. But their attack and midfield will get the job done against Schalke.