Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04 Preview: Bavarians begin another title defence

Bundesliga | Robert Lewandowski leads five-star Bayern Munich to win over  Schalke

27 days after their Champions League triumph, Bayern start the new Bundesliga season at home to Schalke. The last time they dropped points to the Royal Blues? February 2017. Their team is much changed now, with summer signing and Schalke academy graduate Leroy Sane poised to start against his boyhood club. How will they fare as their latest title defence begins?

Bayern Munich vs Schalke: S04 look to end dismal H2H record

Remarkably in 18 H2H meetings, the Bavarians remain unbeaten against S04 (15 wins, three draws). As far as statistics go, the odds are certainly not in Schalke’s favour.

After brushing PSG aside without being on top gear in the Champions League Final on August 23, there was a timely reminder that Bayern can and probably will still get better as time continues.

It was Alphonso Davies’ first full season in Munich: he’s been a revelation, making the left-back berth firmly his own.

Robert Lewandowski had a season that would see him cruise to a maiden Ballon d’Or accolade – awarded to the world’s best player – if they didn’t cancel the 2020 edition due to COVID-19.

Sane’s £45m (increasing with add-ons) move from Manchester City this summer?

Leroy Sane passes knee endurance test in training for Bayern - Bavarian  Football Works

Sane recovered from a serious knee injury and has trained with new teammates over the past month

A potential masterstroke, with the Germany international still only 24 and motivated to make up for lost time after a serious knee injury last year.

Schalke should be worried. Although they stuck with under-fire head coach David Wagner despite pressure surrounding his job security, they’ve lost multiple key players in recent months.

Everton fullback Jonjoe Kenny, Barcelona’s young centre-back Jean-Clair Todibo and Augsburg midfielder Michael Gregoritsch are just three loanees who’ve returned to their parent clubs.

Todibo convinces a Schalke that will have to negotiate with Barça

Todibo (right) against Hoffenheim, during a successful loan spell in Gelsenkirchen last season

Versatile winger Daniel Caligiuri (Augsburg) and first-choice goalkeeper Alexander Nubel (Bayern) departed on free transfers.

Meanwhile, Juventus have an option to buy midfielder Weston McKennie inserted into their agreement after completing a season-long loan deal (£4.1m fee) earlier this month.

With all of that outgoing business in mind, Friday could be a long evening for the visitors – depleted doesn’t begin to describe their situation.

Although Ralf Fahrmann (Norwich, SK Brann) and Nabil Bentaleb (Newcastle) are among their returning players after loan deals elsewhere last season, they have concerns at the back.

Matija Nastasic and Salif Sané, two of their best central defenders, are sidelined through injury.

It means that highly-rated Turkish international Ozan Kabak (20) could be partnered by Benjamin Stambouli, who is a midfielder by trade but can play further back if necessary.

Bayern’s H2H record typifies just how dominant they are against the majority of Germany’s top sides and why many observers quickly criticise the lack of competitiveness at the top.

Schalke, who endured a dismal run to end the previous campaign, are much better than they showed post-Christmas.

READ: Schalke 04 0-1 Werder Bremen – Bittencourt’s stunner extends Blues’ winless streak

They’d love to start the new campaign with a positive result against the defending champions, but unfortunately for them I just don’t see that happening here.

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