The pressure is on Niko Kovac’s Bayern Munich ahead of a Saturday encounter against Schalke in the Bundesliga.
Defeated 3-1 by Bayer Leverkusen last weekend, they have allowed Borussia Dortmund to open up a seven-point gap with 14 matches remaining, while they also slipped behind Borussia Monchengladbach on goal difference.
Schalke, meanwhile, are floating harmlessly in mid-table but would doubtless relish the opportunity to strike a massive blow in Bayern’s title challenge – even if it was to the benefit of BVB, their great rivals.
|Game||Bayern Munich vs Schalke|
|Date||Saturday, February 9|
|Time||5:30pm GMT / 12:30pm ET|
|Stream (US)||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States (US), the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|FOX Sports 2||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
In the United Kingdom (UK), the game can be watched live on BT Sport 3 and livestreamed on BT Sport Live.
|UK TV channel||Online stream|
|BT Sport 3||BT Sport Live|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Bayern Munich players|
|Defenders||Kimmich, Sule, Hummels, Alaba, Boateng|
|Midfielders||Martinez, Gnabry, Goretzka, James, Rafinha, Rodriguez, Davies, Thiago|
|Forwards||Coman, Lewandowski, Muller, Wagner, Ribery|
Franck Ribery’s return to action of late has been a boost to Bayern Munich, while it is expected that Arjen Robben will soon follow. Like Renato Sanches, he is a doubt for this match.
Corentin Tolisso is a long-term casualty and will miss out, though it is expected that Manuel Neuer will feature after suffering a hand injury.
Possible Bayern Munich starting XI: Neuer; Rafinha, Hummels, Sule, Alaba; Kimmich, Martinez; Gnabry, Goretzka, Ribery; Lewandowski
|Defenders||Nastasic, Sane, Bruma, Mendyl, Oczipka, Riether|
|Midfielders||Bentaleb, Rudy, Mascarell, McKennie, Serdar, Caligiuri, Harit|
|Forwards||Konoplianka, Goler, Matondo, Uth, Teuchert, Kutucu, Wright|
Schalke continue to be troubled by numerous selection problems, with Alessandro Schopf and Benjamin Stambouli still absent from the midfield. In attack, Breel Embolo and Steven Skrzybski are both missing.
Matija Nastasic and Guido Burgstaller are heavy doubts, while third-choice goalkeeper Alexander Nubel is banned.
Possible Schalke starting XI: Fahrmann; Caligiuri, Bruma, Sane, Oczipka; McKennie, Bentaleb; Uth, Serdar, Matondo; Kutucu
Betting & Match Odds
Bayern Munich are strong 1/5 favourites to win this encounter at bet365. Schalke can be backed at 12/1, while a draw is available at 6/1,
Even a 3-2 DFB Pokal victory over Hertha Berlin on Wednesday could not disguise what has thus far been a bad week for Bayern Munich.
Two goals from Serge Gnabry and one from Kingsley Coman allowed FCB to deservedly progress, albeit after an unwelcome period of extra-time.
Bayern completed over 1000 passes over the course of two hours in the capital but much of their play was sterile, doing little to lift the pressure on a coach in danger of seeing the club’s six-year dominance of the title slip away.
And he is well aware of the focus he finds himself under.
“Nobody wants 120 minutes but you're happy if you win,” he said after the midweek win. “It was an important victory. It's never advisable to start a phase of midweek matches with a defeat. Especially in Munich, where you have to clinch titles and win many matches.”
Kovac is not the only one facing criticism, however. Striker Robert Lewandowski is “turning into a problem for Bayern”, according to Dietmar Hamman, although the Pole hit back emphatically at such claims.
“I am not interested in what someone says about me. Even more so if that's just flat-out stupid. I don't think he knows much about tactics,” the 30-year-old hitman, who has scored 24 times in 28 matches this season, said after bagging two assists in midweek.
Perhaps the biggest plus to come out of the midweek encounter for Bayern was the return of Franck Ribery, who was given his first minutes of the year and changed the game.
Schalke, meanwhile, were also in cup action, though they had no problems ploughing past Fortuna Koln 4-1 on an emotional evening hours after the death of club legend Rudi Assauer.
The Gelsenkirchen side, meanwhile, have a squad littered with injuries, while they have struggled to gain much positive traction, even if they are a far better team from the one that suffered a 2-0 loss to Bayern back in September as they lost their first five Bundesliga matches on the spin.