Friday, 28 February 2014

Schalke head to buoyant Bayern after Real rout

Schalke head to buoyant Bayern after Real rout

Last Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014, 10:06
Schalke head to buoyant Bayern after Real rout
Berlin: Fresh from their record European defeat at home to Real Madrid, Schalke 04 face another potential drubbing when they travel to all-conquering Bayern Munich on Saturday.

Schalke were routed 6-1 in Gelsenkirchen on Wednesday as Real`s stars ran riot with Karem Benzema, Gareth Bale and Ballon d`Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo each netting two goals.

"We have no choice, but to write off the game," said Schalke midfielder Julian Draxler in the wake of the Real debacle.

"We have to get it out of our heads and prepare for Bayern."

Ronaldo finished with ten shots on goal, the same as the entire Schalke team.

The Royal Blues now face an equally tough challenge at Bayern, who have won all of their last 14 games and are on a record 47-match unbeaten run.

"They (Bayern) are even better than Real, but we`re not just going there to limit the damage," said Schalke`s director of sport Horst Heldt.

Bayern`s 4-0 romp at Hanover 96 last Sunday left Pep Guardiola`s European champions 19-points clear at the top of the table.

If they maintain their lead, their 24th German league title can be confirmed by the end of March at the latest and they have dropped just four points all season.

They are on course to become the first Bundesliga side to complete a season unbeaten.

In contrast, Schalke`s Real debacle was the worst home defeat by a German side in Champions League history and has had a physical effect, as well as battering their confidence.

Both centre-back Felipe Santana and central midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng are ruled out with leg injuries.

Left-back Sead Kolasinac has a bruised jaw and defensive midfielder Roman Neustaedter has a knee injury.

"It makes no sense to use ailing players, so others will have to get involved," said Heldt with a host of changes expected.

Bayern are set to welcome back left wing Xherdan Shaqiri while Franck Ribery continues to recover from buttocks surgery.

Germany star Bastian Schweinsteiger is set to make his second start after back-to-back injuries.

Third-placed Borussia Dortmund host Nuremberg on Saturday with concerns at centre-back.

Greece defender Sokratis is nursing a foot injury from their 4-2 Champions League last 16, first-leg win at Zenit St Petersburg.

Coach Jurgen Klopp is without both his first-choice centre backs.

Mats Hummels is on the verge of returning from an ankle knock while Neven Subotic is out for the season with a torn knee ligament.

Bayer Leverkusen are second in the table, but low on confidence as they host resurgent Mainz 05 after a horror sequence of seven losses in nine games.

Following the shock German Cup defeat at home to second-division Kaiserslautern, Bayer were routed 4-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League, then crashed 3-1 at Wolfsburg last weekend in the league.

"They have been the worst ten days," admitted striker Stefan Kiessling.

Leverkusen will be without winger Gonzalo Castro and defender Emir Spahic who are both suspended.

Mainz are ninth, but closing in on a top six place after losing just one of their last eight games.

There is a relegation battle brewing in the north German derby when strugglers Werder Bremen host Hamburg, who are third from bottom.

Hamburg`s new coach Mirko Slomka made his debut in last Saturday`s shock 3-0 win at home to Borussia Dortmund which broke their run of eight straight defeats.

Bremen are winless in their last 11 matches and have just one victory from their last 11 matches.Playing Friday (All times 1430 GMT unless stated)

Hertha Berlin v Freiburg (1930)


Borussia Dortmund v Nuremberg, Bayer Leverkusen v Mainz 05, Werder Bremen v Hamburg, Augsburg v Hanover 96, Eintracht Braunschweig v Bor. Moenchengladbach, Bayern Munich v Schalke 04 (1730)

Hoffenheim v VfL Wolfsburg, Eintracht Frankfurt v VfB Stuttgart (1630)
AFP -------------------

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