The first big game of the Bundesliga season takes place on Saturday when Schalke host Bayern Munich. Both sides are unbeaten to begin the campaign and can make a statement about their title intentions with a victory.
Schalke will look back upon their 2011-12 season with disappointment that they only took three points out of six matches against Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, and Borussia Mönchengladbach. If you add into the fact that Revierderby rival BVB won the double, Schalke know that they must improve this season to legitimately challenge for a title.
Bayern have won three in a row in the league against Schalke and can show the rest of the league that they're coming back for "their title" with another victory on Saturday. Obviously, after watching BVB capture the title in consecutive seasons, Bayern know that winning the league is the a minimum requirement this year.
The visitors already knew that they'd be without Diego Contento, Mario Gomez, and David Alaba. However, they learned on Friday that they would likely also be without Franck Ribery. The midfielder came off at halftime midweek in their Champions League match against Valencia. He has a thigh injury that hasn't healed yet at this time. His inclusion will be a match time decision.
Schalke's biggest injury concerns involved Jermaine Jones and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The American international is recovering from an ankle injury he suffered against Olympiacos in the Champions league midweek while the Dutch forward is suffering from flu-like symptoms. Both players are expected to make the matchday squad and probably start.
The big test is going to be if the Schalke defense can hold up against the Bayern attack. Benedikt Höwedes told the press this week that, "Bayern won't have it easy." If that's the case, then Höwedes and the rest of the backline will have to play a near perfect match. The German international has been shoehorned into the right back position this season but has performed well to date. His performance in particular will be one to keep an eye on as he face Arjen Robben, Thomas Müller, or Xherdan Shaqiri.
Jupp Heynckes was able to rest striker Mario Mandzukic and bring him off the bench midweek. He'll get the start and will be the key piece in the Bayern attack. Mandzukic has been on fire this season He has three goals and an assist in three league matches already this season. His link up play with Müller has been outstanding so far. Müller has chipped in with three goals and two assists of his own.
Match Date/Time: Saturday, 15:30 CET / 9:30 AM EDT
Venue: Veltins Arena, Gelsenkirchen, Germany
TV: Gol TV (USA), ESPN Deportes (USA), Gol TV (Canada), Sky (Germany)