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Preview: Bayern Munich host Schalke in the Goretzka Bowl

A warmer welcome possibly awaits Leon Goretzka at the Allianz Arena than he has lately received at home. After the whistle, though, all niceties are off.

VfB Stuttgart v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga Photo by Alex Grimm/Bongarts/Getty Images

Bayern Munich hopes to extend a 14-game-long undefeated streak against Schalke this Saturday (W-L-D = 11-0-3). The last time the Royal Blues beat the Reds, back in the 2010/11 season, Manuel Neuer was still guarding Schalke’s goal. Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco says, “We’re traveling there to get three points. Otherwise we might as well just stay in bed in Gelsenkirchen.” But Jupp Heynckes’s team intends to send Schalke home empty-handed.

Full squad

For the first time, since Thiago Alcantara has returned to team training, Heynckes has all his field players at his disposal. But he cannot include all of them in the squad, nor would he: “With Thiago,” Heynckes said at the pre-game press conference, “I am still being very, very careful.” The Spaniard will thus watch this game from the stands, his comeback postponed until next week in Wolfsburg.

Two more players of the 19 available will have to join him. Sebastian Rudy, Corentin Tolisso, Juan Bernat, and even Sandro Wagner all stand a chance of being left out.

As for the lineup, Heynckes may keep to the 4-1-4-1 lineup he has recently favored, as Javi Martinez is expected to return to his usual position ahead of the center-backs in the defensive midfield. As for the rest, Kingsley Coman is likely to receive some rest after starting against Paderborn earlier in the week.

Potential lineup:

Jerome Boateng should return to the starting lineup alongside Mats Hummels, having been replaced by Niklas Süle in Paderborn. On offense, it is possible that Heynckes opts to rest Thomas Müller, who suffered a thigh bruise on Tuesday and left the game early. If he does, Arturo Vidal or Corentin Tolisso may take his place, dropping back into a double-pivot with Martinez, allowing James to play as sole central attacking midfielder.

Goretzka’s rhapsody in royal blue

Jupp Heynckes praised his youthful colleague Domenico Tedesco: “We have many young, talented coaches in the Bundesliga. He is indisputably one of them,“ he told the press. Tedesco knows he will be hard pressed to beat Heynckes at the Allianz Arena. The 32-year-old coach described Heynckes as “someone I look up to.” All praise aside, Tedesco is wary of being “suffocated“ by Bayern's defensive game: “We will have to be clever in order to breathe.”

Schalke surprisingly fell to Werder Bremen last weekend in an ugly 1:2 loss. Keeper Ralf Fährmann conceded a goal on an error after defender Matija Nastasic was sent off with a yellow-red late in the game; Werder then scored the game-winner in stoppage time.

With the exception of 19-year-old American sensation Weston McKennie—who sadly suffered a partial MCL rupture in late January—Tedesco has a healthy squad to field: Nastasic will probably be replaced in Schalke's back three by Benjamin Stambouli, while Leon Goretzka is almost certain to start against his future employer. All eyes will be on the midfielder in his first appearance at the Allianz since announcing his decision to join Bayern this coming summer.

Potential lineup:

Bayern will need to be on its toes against Schalke’s scorers. Striker Guido Burgstaller has been warming up after a slow start to the season (7 goals, 4 assists), while veteran center-back Naldo has scored an impressive 5 goals (and 2 assists). Naldo is in such great form at the ripe old age of 35 that he has caught the attention of Brazilian national coach Tite and seems to have a shot of rejoining the Brazilian national team for the first time since 2007.

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