Schalke-Bayern Munich Preview: Bavarians aiming to punish hosts in poor form

Pep Guardiola’s men are yet to show their destructive side in 2014-15 but will be hopeful that Saturday’s trip to Gelsenkirchen will see them unleashed

Bayern Munich will be looking to return to their impressive best when they face a Schalke side on Saturday who have endured a woeful start to the season.

Although a trip to the Veltins Arena is usually one of the tougher assignments in German football, Bayern will surely feel like they are playing Jens Keller’s men at the right time.

Schalke’s were first dumped out of the DFB-Pokal by third-tier Dynamo Dresden before then opening their Bundesliga campaign with a loss at Hannover.

Left-back Sead Kolasinac suffered a serious knee injury in the defeat at Hannover and he has joined a lengthy Schalke injury list that also contains the likes of Jefferson Farfan, Atsuto Uchida, Leon Goretzka and Fabian Giefer.

Bayern are also far from full strength, with Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara all absent, while it might be too soon for new €28 million signing Mehdi Benatia to make his full debut. Meanwhile, it is uncertain whether Xabi Alonso will be registered on time for the match.

Rafinha is battling an ankle injury and Franck Ribery is still carrying a knock, meaning that the likes of Gianluca Gaudino and Sebastian Rode could play a part again.

Both featured in Bayern’s 2-1 win over Wolfsburg that opened the Bundesliga season last week, with Thomas Muller and Arjen Robben scoring for the Bavarian giants, who were lucky to claim all three points. Wolfsburg’s Junior Malanda somehow missed an open goal in the dying stages, denying the visitors an equaliser.

Guardiola’s men were far from their free-flowing best on that occasion and he will demand an improvement in Gelsenkirchen and, with the hosts struggling, Bayern will be confident of coming away from one of their trickier fixtures of the season with all three points.

Official: Xabi Alonso joins Bayern Munich

The Bundesliga champions have announced that they have completed the signing of the experienced midfielder



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FC Bayern MünchenBAY




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Bayern Munich have confirmed the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso for an estimated €10 million.

The 32-year-old has put pen to paper on a deal which is set to see him reside at the Allianz Arena under former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola until 2016.

Alonso, who retired from Spain duty on Wednesday following World Cup 2014’s group stage exit, had been with the reigning European champions since joining for an undisclosed fee from Liverpool five years ago.

Madrid had brought on board Toni Kroos from Bayern and James Rodriguez from Monaco as midfield options, prompting Alonso to request a transfer late in the window after losing his starting berth.

He will provide central midfield reinforcements for the Bavarians, who are currently without Javi Martinez, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thiago Alcantara due to injury.

Former Bayern midfielder Luiz Gustavo, part of the Brazil squad which reached the World Cup semi-finals before humiliation at the hands of Germany, is set to leave Wolfsburg to replace Alonso at the Santiago Bernabeu.

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Bayern new-boy Benatia relishing Roma return

The Morocco international only completed his move to the Allianz Arena on Thursday but he is now set to face his old side

New Bayern Munich signing Mehdia Benatia has expressed his joy after the Champions League handed him an immediate return to Roma.

The Morocco international only sealed a reported €28 million move to the Allianz Arena on Thursday and was overjoyed when his new club came out in the same group as his former employers just over 24 hours later.

“I am so happy with the draw,” Benatia enthused. “I wished for us to play Roma so badly so I could see my friends again. Those will be wonderful matches.”

Bayern and Roma will also have Manchester City and CSKA Moscow to contend with in Group E and Philipp Lahm was quick to point out that Pep Guardiola’s men will have their work cut out in reaching the last 16.

“That is not an easy group,” the Bavarians’ skipper stated. “We play three very good teams, including the English champions, Manchester City.

“These are tough tasks, especially away from home.”

However, Bayern attacking midfielder Thomas Muller is optimistic that the German titleholders have enough quality to progress to the knockout stage.

“This is a challenging group,” the Germany international staged. “This will be no walk in the park, but we are optimistic we will go through.“

Bayern winger Arjen Robben is also looking forward to some mouth-watering match-ups in Group E.

“We got wonderful opponents,” the Dutchman added. “Of course it will be difficult again. But there are great nights ahead of us and we are looking forward to them.”

Robben: I don't know who Benatia is!

The Netherlands internaional has confessed that he was unfamiliar with the Morocco international before the centre-half joined the Bavarian club

Arjen Robben has admitted that he has never heard of new Bayern Munich team-mate Mehdi Benatia.

After losing Javi Martinez to a serious knee injury, the German champions agreed to pay Roma a reported €37 million transfer fee for the Morocco international.

However, even though Benatia established himself as one of the best centre-halves in Serie A last season, Robben has now confessed that he is unfamiliar with the 27-year-old defender.

“Honestly, I do not know him,” the Netherlands international told reporters. “I only know that he comes from the Roma

“But the club will know why they got him. Javi is a great loss, so we needed a replacement.”

Meanwhile, former Chelsea and Real Madrid winger Robben admitted that joining Bayern was the key moment in his career.

“For me, it was a very important decision to come to Munich,” he mused.

“I was previously at top clubs such as Real Madrid or Chelsea and obviously also had good times there.

“But I’ve only reached my top level in Munich. I have developed myself over the years as a player and as a person. I am very happy.”

Ronaldo named Uefa's Best Player in Europe

The Real Madrid star has been voted as the top performer in 2013-14 ahead of Bayern Munich pair and fellow nominees Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named as Uefa’s Best Player in Europe for his Champions League-winning heroics with Real Madrid in 2013-14.

The Portuguese, 29, scored a remarkable 17 goals in 11 European games as Carlo Ancelotti’s stormed to the Decima and struck three times en route to Copa del Rey glory as Madrid completed the cup double.

Though the Santiago Bernabeu side were less successful in La Liga, Ronaldo still averaged more than a goal a game (31 efforts in 30 matches) as they finished third behind Atletico Madrid and Barcelona.

The former Manchester United forward was voted as the best player ahead of Bayern Munich duo Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben, who starred as Pep Guardiola’s men lifted four of a possible six trophies last season.

“I’m really, really happy,” Ronaldo said upon being presented the award following the draw for the 2014-15 Champions League group stage on Thursday.

“I have to say thank you to my team-mates, to my family, my friends. I don’t have this trophy in my museum – I’ll put it there straight away.”

Ronaldo has already begun the new campaign in superb fashion, scoring three goals in four games including his double as Real Madrid defeated Sevilla to win the Uefa Super Cup earlier in August.

More to follow…