Bayern Munich will look to tighten their grip on the Bundesliga title race when they travel to struggling Schalke on Sunday at 2:300pm (UK time).
Hansi Flick’s men are top of the table once again, although they remain just four points clear of RB Leipzig, while Schalke are stuck in last place with only seven points from 17 games.
How to live stream Schalke vs Bayern Munich online:
Where to watch Schalke vs Bayern Munich on TV:
- UK: BT Sport 2
- US: ESPN+
Scoreline prediction: Schalke 1-5 Bayern Munich
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Schalke vs Bayern Munich build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
The rapid decline of Schalke has been tough to watch over the past 18 months, with the seven-time German champions going from perennial challengers for European places to staring relegation in the face in the blink of an eye.
Christian Gross became the club’s fourth head coach of the season in December and although he led Schalke to a 4-0 win over Hoffenheim recently, he has lost his other three games in charge so far.
With an eight-point gap now separating Schalke and the relegation playoff place, Bayern Munich are the last team they want to face right now. Flick’s side have recovered well from their two-game slump which saw them lose 3-2 to Borussia Monchengladbach and exit the DFB-Pokal to second-tier side, Holstein Kiel, beating Freiburg (2-1) and Augsburg (1-0).
The Bavarians are four points clear of nearest challengers RB Leipzig and although they appear to be more vulnerable last season, Bayern are heavy favourites to crush Schalke and once again retain their Bundesliga title come the end of the season.
- Schalke (vs FC Koln): Fahrmann; Becker, Kabac, Nastasic, Kolasinac; Stambouli, Serdar; Raman, Uth, Harit; Hoppe.
- Bayern Munich (vs Augsburg): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Hernandez; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar is yet to play since his return from Ajax due to a calf problem, but could return here. Omar Mascarell is battling a calf injury, while defender Salif Sane has a knee problem, leaving both doubtful. Kilian Ludewig, Steven Skrzybski, Goncalo Paciencia, Nabil Bentaleb and Vedad Ibisevic are all out.
Bayern’s only injury concern heading to Gelsenkirchen is Tanguy Nianzou, who is out with a muscle injury.
Players to watch:
Schalke: It’s been an absolutely miserable season for Schalke in 2020/21 but one shining light in the last few weeks has been the emergence of Matthew Hoppe. With just six goals in 36 games for the club at youth level, and more yellow cards (2) than goals (2) in his first five senior appearances, few expected much of the American forward, however, the 19-year-old has exploded into life across his last three games, scoring five goals — including a hat-trick in Schalke’s 4-0 win over Hoffenheim — to make him the joint-highest scoring player in the German top-flight in 2021.
The most impressive part of Hoppe’s upturn so far has been his ability to make something out of nothing, thanks to his intelligent movement and never-say-die attitude. The teenager is unwilling to give up a chance and gets in the face of the opposition in order to force openings on goal. Gross confirmed ahead of the trip to Bayern that Schalke are already working on a new contract for Hoppe, whose current deal expires at the end of this season.
“The club management is doing everything it can to ensure that he will continue to play for Schalke in the future,” Gross told reporters on Friday.
Incredibly, half of Hoppe’s total shots this season have resulted in a goal, while he’s found the net with five of his six shots on target. Of course, Bayern Munich will present a totally different sort of challenge and will no doubt be the hardest opponent the youngster has ever faced. However, Hoppe has already made a habit of defying the odds and if he can do that again here against the German champions, the American soccer community will be alive with excitement around another potential USMNT star.
Bayern Munich: Level with Hoppe at the top of the scoring charts in 2021 is none other than Robert Lewandowski (who else?). The Polish veteran is enjoying yet another stellar campaign with the Bavarians, netting a league-high 22 goals in just 16 Bundesliga appearances, leaving him eight clear of his nearest challenger, Erling Haaland.
After firing his side into the lead, Lewandowski was withdrawn in the 67th minute of Bayern’s 1-0 win over Augsburg last time out, despite the Bavarians not putting the game to bed, but Flick confirmed after the match that this was a mere precaution to avoid injury, not wanting to take any risks with such an important player.
“He already felt something in his muscles this morning, but said he could manage it well,” said Flick. “He was supposed to let us know if he couldn’t go on, and that’s what he did. It was a precaution because Robert is very important for us. We didn’t want to take any risks there.”
What is perhaps even more impressive than Lewandowski’s scoring record — which we’ve all become accustomed to over the years — is how the 32-year-old has added elite creativity to his game. Although he’s not registering Harry Kane-esque assist numbers, he has already set up five goals for his teammates in the Bundesliga this season, surpassing his total for the 2019/20 in 15 games less.
Schalke have conceded 44 goals so far this season — eight more than any other Bundesliga team — and although Hoppe may cause problems at one end, they may be powerless to stop Lewandowski at the other.
Bundesliga 2020/21 recent form:
- Schalke: LLWLL
- Bayern: WWLWW
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