Bayern boss Guardiola: Madrid mauling won't affect Schalke

The Spaniard has hailed die Knappen as one of the best teams in Germany and is anticipating a tight game at the Allianz Arena on Saturday evening

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola is talking up the threat posed by Schalke to his side’s unbeaten Bundesliga record – even though Jens Keller’s men were humiliated by Real Madrid in midweek.

Die Knappen

suffered an embarrassing 6-1 home defeat in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with los Blancos on Wednesday night.

However, Guardiola does not believe that Schalke’s continental collapse will have any bearing on Saturday’s game at the Allianz Arena.

“The Bundesliga is a totally different competition,” the former Barcelona coach told reporters. “I don’t know what will happen tomorrow [Saturday]. But we’ve been training incredibly hard.

“Schalke are one of the best teams in the league. They’ve done very well so far.

“But we’re in good form and can take one more step towards defending our title.”

Bayern are currently 19 points clear at the top of the table, while Schalke, who are unbeaten in seven Bundesliga games, sit fourth.

Draxler & Reus left out of Germany squad for Chile game

The pair have only recently returned to full fitness and will not feature against Jorge Sampaoli’s side next week, but Joachim Low has called up four new faces

Germany coach Joachim Low has opted to omit Julian Draxler and Marco Reus from his squad for Wednesday’s international friendly against Chile, while the injured Thomas Muller also misses out.

Both Reus and Draxler recently returned to full match fitness after a spell on the sidelines due to injury and Low has opted not to take any risks with the duo.

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger returns after missing Germany’s previous game due to physical problems.

Furthermore, Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria), Pierre-Michel Lasogga (Hamburg) and Andre Hahn (Augsburg) could all make their debut for the Nationalelf after receiving a call-up for the first time.

Squad in full:

Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich, Roman Weidenfeller (Borussia Dortmund) 

Defenders: Jerome Boateng, Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Matthias Ginter (Freiburg), Kevin Grosskreutz, Marcel Schmelzer (Borussia Dortmund), Marcell Jansen (Hamburg), Shkodran Mustafi (Sampdoria), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal)

Midfielders: Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Andre Hahn (Augsburg), Mario Gotze, Toni Kroos, Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil, (Arsenal), Sidney Sam (Bayer Leverkusen) 

Attackers: Pierre-Michel Lasogga (Hamburg), Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Lukas Podolski (Arsenal), Andre Schurrle (Chelsea)

Schalke must fight to avoid Bayern slaughter, says Thon

The former S04 star believes Jens Keller’s side must put the Real Madrid mauling behind them if they are to redeem themselves at the Allianz Arena

EXCLUSIVE
By Hassan Talib Haji

Schalke legend Olaf Thon has called upon Jens Keller’s side to put up a fight when they face Bayern Munich and try to avoid a second mauling in the space of four days.

The Gelsenkirchen outfit were beaten 6-1 at home by Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday and have a daunting trip to the Allianz Arena on Saturday.

The former West Germany international believes that his old club have to attempt to redeem themselves when they play the Bundesliga champions and cannot lose faith in the possibility of an unlikely away victory.

“I was at the stadium and Schalke took a real punishing. I hope the team will make a quick recovery from that,” he told Goal.

“Jens Keller must find the right words ahead of the game against Bayern in Munich. Nobody will expect something from Schalke. There must be some kind of redemption, some kind of fight. They cannot just be slaughtered again.

“They started very well into the second half of the season and maybe this was the reason that they went into the game naively and got punished.

“Now they have to think positively and should not stop believing in themselves. Bayern will be tremendously difficult. With this bad result in your system you cannot go into the game with a lot of self-confidence.

“In football a surprise is always possible. Look what Hamburg done with Borussia Dortmund [winning 3-0 last weekend]. Nobody expected a clear win, given Hamburg’s relegation situation.

“It will be difficult, but not impossible to take something back home.”

Bayern want to wrap up Bundesliga in March, says Boateng

The Germany international is hopeful that the Bavarians can seal the league title in the upcoming weeks

Jerome Boateng has insisted that Bayern Munich are keen to decide the Bundesliga title race in record time.

The reigning champions currently hold a 19-point lead over second-placed Bayer Leverkusen and they will be champions by the end of March if they keep up their winning streak in the weeks to come.

“We want to triumph in each game we play. We would happily take it if that means we are crowned Bundesliga champions by March,” Boateng told Bild.

Boateng then went on to have his say on this weekend’s Bundesliga match against Schalke and warned his team-mates not to underestimate the Gelsenkirchen side, who were thrashed 6-1 in midweek by Real Madrid.

“I hope that we will put in a very good performance. We want to win our home games. Schalke have done well domestically after the winter break and will pose a stern test.”

The defender also discussed Pep Guardiola and made it clear that he has already learned a lot from the former Barcelona coach.

“You just see that he really loves the game with everything that he does. He has already taught me a lot, especially when it comes to tactics.”

Bundesliga butchers: Where on Earth do Bayern expect to play Draxler?

The Bavarians have admitted their interest in bringing the Schalke star to the Allianz Arena, but have absolutely no need for the 20-year-old

COMMENT
By Enis Koylu

It was news that surprised few, but shocked so many. When Matthias Sammer publicly expressed Bayern Munich’s interest in signing Germany wonderkid Julian Draxler, there was a sense of deja vu to it all; the Champions League holders attempting to lure yet another top Bundesliga talent to the club.

On the face of it, the German champions moving for Draxler makes perfect sense. Though a Schalke boy through and through, the 20-year-old has always seemed destined for bigger and better things and Bayern would help him achieve his goals.

However, scratch the surface and it is all cynically familiar. Bayern have long made a habit of monopolising the top talent in Germany, signing the best players not just to strengthen their own squad, but to weaken that of potential rivals.

 President Uli Hoeness, who made his fortune in the meat trade, has taken to butchering his side’s rivals.

They may have a fantastic history of breeding players of their own; Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Paul Breitner and more recently Bastian Schweinsteiger and Philipp Lahm all emerging through the ranks in Munich and into the annals of German football history. But, the Bavarians have been massively supplemented by players and coaches poached from domestic competition. The likes of Lothar Matthaus, Michael Ballack, Lucio, Ze Roberto, and of course Mario Gotze, who have been captured from their nearest rivals. Even sporting director Sammer himself.

The teams left reeling from their aggressive transfer policy are numerous: Werder Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen and even Karlsruhe built fine teams, but their best players – the Miroslav Kloses, Ballacks and Oliver Kahns – were plundered by Bayern.

Eintracht Frankfurt will lose one of their key players, Sebastian Rode, to the German champions in the summer and club president Heribert Bruchhagen is in no doubt as to what attracts them to the Allianz Arena.

“Why does Sebastian want to go to Bayern? My God, these are young people. They can earn four times as much money at Bayern as they can here. End of story.”

And now they are taking their old policy to new levels. Robert Lewandowski is set to join Gotze at the Allianz Arena in the summer from Borussia Dortmund, effectively hammering the final nail into the coffin of the team who stole Bayern’s German hegemony between 2010 and 2012.

But while Gotze was to an extent required to ease the creative burden on Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben, and Lewandowski will be an upgrade on Mario Mandzukic, it is hard to find any on-field reason to move for Draxler.

The Gladbeck native’s performances this year show that he still has a lot to learn and would struggle to challenge more experienced campaigners for a regular spot in the team. He deserves a club that would treat him with patience if he chooses to leave the Veltins Arena. Gotze, Ribery, Robben, Thomas Muller and Toni Kroos would all be ahead of him in the pecking order. What’s more, if Bayern were to make another big-name signing this summer, they would be far better off bolstering their defence than their attack.

Moving to Bayern is far from a guarantee of success, too. Manuel Neuer has blossomed into one of the world’s best, and most decorated, goalkeepers since switching to Munich, but Lukas Podolski – though his medal collection grew – found himself desperate enough to return to struggling hometown club Koln.

Until recently, the Bundesliga boasted something La Liga, the Premier League and Serie A could not: genuine unpredictability which could see a minnow stun everyone and claim the title. But this has now ended and the Bundesliga has become the most predictable league in Europe.

And football needs competition to thrive. In the business world, companies who try to introduce a monopoly on a product are duly punished, just as Microsoft were by the US government in 1998.

The Bundesliga has grown into one of the most popular leagues in the world in recent years, but Bayern – while breaking no rules – are going a long way to destroying the product they were instrumental in creating by eliminating all of their rivals.

Signing Draxler, a player they hardly need for sporting reasons, would see them descend into self-parody and represent another nail in the coffin of what was once a brilliant league.

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