Schalke 0-4 Bayern Munich: Bavarians move level with Dortmund

Bayern Munich moved level on points with Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund on Saturday with a 4-0 win over Schalke at the Veltins Arena.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Mandzukic put Bayern two goals to the good after 22 minutes before Franck Ribery and Claudio Pizarro added further strikes in the second half to extend their unbeaten run in the Bundesliga to 31.

Both sides enjoyed winning starts to their UEFA Champions League campaigns in midweek and made one change from their European outings, with Schalke bringing in Jermaine Jones in place of Marco Hoger.

The champions named Schweinsteiger in their starting line-up, with Thomas Muller dropping to the bench.

David Alaba almost made it two goals in four days after nine minutes, flashing a free-kick just wide for the visitors, before Toni Kroos curled over from inside the box on what was his 150th Bundesliga appearance.

Adam Szalai should have opened the scoring 16 minutes in, but he failed to connect sufficiently with a Kevin-Prince Boateng cross and Bayern were able to clear.

But the visitors did edge ahead 21 minutes in courtesy of the returning Schweinsteiger.

Arjen Robben’s corner found the unmarked midfielder, who headed into the far corner of the goal beyond the despairing lunge of defender Astuto Uchida on the line.

Mandzukic doubled Bayern’s lead just a minute later, again through a header, this time from Alaba’s delivery.

The Croatia international’s effort beat Timo Hildebrand before striking Benedikt Howedes on the line and dribbling in.

Schalke had not conceded in three games going into Saturday’s clash and will have been relieved to see Robben’s strike deflected wide just short of the half-hour mark.

Mandzukic shot over from inside the area after good work from Robben on the right, six minutes after the break, as Pep Guardiola’s side pressed for a third.

While the hosts had plenty of possession, they were unable to make it count, with their final ball letting them down as they searched for a way back into the game.

Boateng’s off-target header from a Julian Draxler cross just after the hour was their first opportunity of the half but Bayern’s lethal touch was soon evident again on 74 minutes.

Alaba played the ball across the box into the path of the arriving Ribery and, despite a less-than-perfect touch from the France international, the ball rolled past Hildebrand to put the visitors 3-0 up.

Pizarro added a fourth seven minutes from time with a simple tap-in after good work from fellow substitute Muller, as Bayern made it five wins from six in the league this season.

They share the same points and goal difference as Dortmund, who were held 1-1 by Nuremberg.

Platini: Ribery a serious Ballon d'Or contender

The former France and Juventus star thinks his compatriot could dethrone Lionel Messi and win this year’s award

Uefa president Michel Platini believes Bayern Munich star Franck Ribery has a good chance of winning the Ballon d’Or.

The France international recently won Uefa’s Best Player in Europe award and is one of the favourites to win the Ballon d’Or as well, with La Liga stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as Ribery’s biggest rivals for the prestigious individual award.

“He is a very serious candidate to win the Ballon d’Or,” Platini told gathered press when asked about his compatriot’s chances of winning the award.

“He was already voted the best player in Europe in August. Admittedly, that was a different election, though.”

Messi has won the Fifa Ballon d’Or three consecutive times since the introduction of the award in 2010 after previously scooping up the Ballon d’Or and Fifa World Player of the Year trophies in 2009.

Lahm plays down doping impact

The Germany international feels there are certain aspects to football you cannot improve upon, yet insists that the matter cannot be ignored

Bayern Munich defender Philipp Lahm has stressed that football should take the doping problem seriously, but believes performance enhancing drugs are less effective in football than in other sports.

The likes of cycling and sprinting have been plagued by doping scandals in recent years and Lahm feels it would be wrong to think there is no use of prohibited substances in football.

“I am not naive when it comes to doping. There have already been doping cases in football and this could happen again,” the Germany international told Spiegel.

“There is a big difference with other sports, though. Understanding of the game and technique are vital in football and you cannot improve those areas by using doping.

“It’s reassuring that you can play football at the highest level without the use of doping.

“I am all in favour of fair play and against cheating in any form. I would be perfectly fine with it if an anti-doping law would be put into place.”

Lahm underwent six doping tests during Bayern’s treble winning 2012-13 campaign, two of which were unannounced and conducted at his home.

Neuer: Schalke won't be a walkover

The Germany international believes the Gelsenkirchen side will prove to be a tough opponent in Saturday’s Bundesliga match

Manuel Neuer has warned his Bayern Munich team-mates that Schalke will not be pushovers in Saturday’s Bundesliga encounter.

The reigning German champions currently sit second in the league table with 13 points from five games, while the Gelsenkirchen side have to settle for 10th spot with just seven points, yet Neuer believes that Schalke will pose a stern test for Bayern.

“We can’t expect it to be a walkover,” Neuer told the official Bayern website.

“I think it will be a challenge to beat Schalke, especially considering they’re on a roll.

“We know Schalke are performing very well at the moment, so we have to do everything we can to win this game.

“If we think it will be a simple kick-about, we’ll be shown how wrong we are.”

Saturday’s match at the Veltins Arena kicks off at 18:30CET.

Boateng eyes sibling bragging rights

The midfielder will face his defender brother on Saturday and has his eyes firmly set on claiming victory

Schalke midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng has revealed he is desperate to inflict defeat on brother Jerome in Saturday’s clash with Bayern Munich.

The Ghana international only moved to Gelsenkirchen in a €12 million deal a matter of weeks ago but has wasted little time in making an impact by scoring twice in his first three games.

The 26-year-old will have a further opportunity to continue his good form when Schalke host reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern on Sunday and Boateng has his eyes set on more than just the three points.

He told Bild: “We go out with a broad chestready for Bayern! I hope that I can claim victory in my duel with my brother Jerome!”

Julian Draxler, who turned 20 on Friday, has set his own personal target for the weekend – getting one over on former S04 team-mate Manuel Neuer – who is yet to concede a goal against Schalke since moving to Bayern in 2011.

He added: “It would please us all, when Manuel has to pick up a few balls out of the net. Hopefully I can celebrate that at my birthday party!

Schalke sit in ninth spot ahead of the game with seven points from five games while Bayern are in second place, two points adrift of leaders Borussia Dortmund.