Und now also FC Bayern. After the depressing last-minute bankruptcy against 1. FC Köln, FC Schalke 04 faces the next big blow in the Bundesliga. Four months after the 8-0 spectacle with the main actors Leroy Sané and Serge Gnabry in the first leg, the Munich team are aiming for a return to the lightness of the triple year against the bottom of the league before groundbreaking weeks with the Club World Cup and top class.
“The first leg is in our minds in no time at all,” assured Bayern coach Hansi Flick before the away game on Sunday (3:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on Sky). Schalke coach Christian Gross was astonished when asked whether a double-digit clap could also follow this time. “What should I answer that?” Said the 66-year-old.
Flick warned on Friday that Schalke were on the brink of the second division. “I think that Schalke have a team with good individual players and with quality, as the current table does not reflect,” said the successful coach, who adjusts to uncomfortable space conditions in Gelsenkirchen. He wants to see a further increase in performance against the bottom of the table from his front runner, who was last saved in Augsburg (1: 0) and against Freiburg (2: 1) by post and bar – and thus the “queasy” feeling of CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge disappear.
“I am convinced that when the Champions League starts again, when the important big games come, the team will be more focused and show their true colors again,” said CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge on “Bild live”.
But what is the “real” Bayern face this season? The dream of the first half of the season, when three-goal scorer Gnabry and the Sané conjured up like Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben? Or that of the more cumbersome last appearances? “Of course we don’t dominate our opponents like we used to, but you can’t talk badly either. Now we have won two games in a row, ”said national goalkeeper Manuel Neuer. Like Leon Goretzka and Alexander Nübel, Neuer also played for Schalke for a long time. Before Nübel returned to Gelsenkirchen for the first time, Flick praised the substitute goalkeeper as an “absolute professional and very fine person”.
Bayern are fighting their way through a difficult phase after bankruptcies in Kiel and Gladbach, not only the wing stars Gnabry and Sané are clearly removed from the gala form from September. Gnabry scored only once after the furious 8-0 and has been waiting for a league goal for ten games. The approximately 50 million euro new entry Sané, who swirled for royal blue in the youth and as a young professional, could not meet the expectations after the super debut. Back then he scored one goal and set up two more.
“Leroy has a great talent, God gave him that in the cradle,” said Rummenigge, who dismissed the question of an early sale of the national player who was bound until mid-2025 as “nonsense”. “Leroy has to demand the great talent of himself, but also promote it in order to justify the great trust that the whole club has put into the transfer.”
Twenty years ago, Schalke missed the championship by just a few minutes in a long-distance duel with Munich. In this disastrous season, on the other hand, you almost lack the imagination how the Gelsenkirchen team should still prevent the fall into the second division. Returning Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is great hope for an initial spark at the beginning of the second half of the season. “You always have an opportunity in football. It’s a new game, a new dramaturgy, ”said Gross. After the late knockout against Cologne, the distance to the relegation place has increased to eight points.
Huntelaar could now make the debut after having calf problems. However, the Dutchman’s personal record against the triple winner is sobering. He missed six of 14 possible games, of the remaining eight he only won the first and then lost seven. The “Hunter” neither scored nor prepared a goal against Munich in the Bundesliga.