Back to the Allianz Arena
FC Bayern return to Munich to take on an underperforming Schalke squad in their first home match since the winter break.
The home match kicks off at 9:30 EST and will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1. Live streams can be found on Fox Sports Go or Fox Soccer2Go.
Both Arturo Vidal and Thiago returned to team training this week, so will make the squad. Jerome Boateng, however, will remain sidelined with Franck Ribery, who sustained an injury during this week’s training sessions. Joshua Kimmich has been ruled out due to sickness, and it unsure whether or not Philipp Lahm will be match ready.
What to Watch For
Thiago’s Possible Return to the Starting XI. It is no secret that Bayern Munich have noy been playing the same since losing their star playmaker over the winter break. Offensively, the team has often looked lost, void of any creativity. While Muller could certainly use his unique set of skills to find space in the Schalke back 3, perhaps the number 10 role would better be filled by a more technically proficient player like Thiago. However, it is entirely possible that they both make the starting lineup, allowing the raumdeuter to interpret the space between defenders and the Spaniard to pick the pass to find him. This all depends on the fitness level of Thiago. It would be a shame to rush him back into a match just to have him get injured again.
Defending the Counterattack. Far too often this season (as in years past), quick counterattacks have left the Bayern defense in shambles. Fortunately, the world’s best goalkeeper has been able to save the day more often than not. However, when it comes to quick counterattacking play, few in the league do it better than Schalke. Having the likes of Vidal or Kimmich in the midfield rather than the aging Xabi Alonso can help provide some cover for the defense, but the team as a whole must be prepared to defend against quick attacks and be cautious to not give the ball away sloppily in midfield (both things the team has struggled with this season).
A Fantastic Goalkeeper. No, surprisingly, I am not referring to Manuel Neuer, but Ralf Fahrmann. The Bundesliga is full of great shot-stoppers, but Saturday’s match will be a showdown of the best. Of course, Fahrmann has a ways to go before reaching the heights of Bayern’s “Sweeper Keeper,” but Schalke’s #1 is as good a goalkeeper as the team will face this season. Lewandowski and co. will have to bring their A-game if they want to see the ball put into the back of the net.
Costa – Thiago – Robben
Alonso – Vidal
Alaba – Hummels – Martinez – Rafinha