Bayern boss Flick wary of resurgent Schalke

Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard celebrate after the match against Hertha BSC at Olympiastadion in Berlin January 19, 2020. — Reuters pic
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski, David Alaba and Benjamin Pavard celebrate after the match against Hertha BSC at Olympiastadion in Berlin January 19, 2020. — Reuters pic

BERLIN, Jan 25 — Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick has told his star-studded squad to focus only on their own performances in this season’s Bundesliga title-race before hosting resurgent Schalke today.

Defending champions Bayern go into this weekend’s round of matches second in the table, four points behind leaders RB Leipzig, before facing fifth-placed Schalke at the Allianz Arena.

The Bavarian giants strengthened their squad in midweek by signing Spain right-back Alvaro Odriozola from Real Madrid on loan for the rest of the season.

Bayern Munich’s seven-year domination in Germany is under serious threat with Leipzig, Gladbach, Dortmund and Schalke all in the hunt for this season’s title.

Flick advises his stars to only worry about how they play, “then things will be like they have been in the past years when the championship was only about us”.

“We can see that a lot is happening with our main rivals.

“They are in the fight and and they all see a chance to become champions.”

Schalke are three points behind Bayern and proved their credentials as title contenders with an impressive 2-0 win over Moenchengladbach last Friday.

Their head coach David Wagner has described the idea of taking just one point at the Allianz Arena as “crazy” as they chase a first win in 20 games over Bayern.

However, Flick knows that a shock win for the Royal Blues in Munich, and a fifth league defeat this season for Bayern, could be a serious set back.

“It’s going to be a difficult game, we have to be prepared for them to push us,” he warned.

Bayern will have Germany midfielder Joshua Kimmich back after he was suspended for last Sunday’s 4-0 away win at Hertha Berlin after picking up five yellow cards this season.

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has attracted headlines amid news he is to divorce his wife of less than three years.

Flick insists the 33-year-old Bayern and Germany captain can handle the off-field pressure.

“Manuel is a world-class goalkeeper, he knows how to handle things, I don’t worry about that,” said the Bayern coach.

There was some good news as centre-back Lucas Hernandez, Bayern’s most expensive player costing €80 million (US$88 million) from Atletico Madrid, returned to training on Monday after an ankle injury last October.

“Lucas is making good progress, but we have to see how his ankle reacts to full weight-bearing,” said Flick. — AFP

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