Schalke 04 hope to overcome rotating Bayern Munich

Schalke 04 are hoping to come out on top against Bayern Munich this weekend, buoyed by victory in their Champions League opener against Olympiakos.

Updated: September 20, 2012 17:11 IST
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Berlin: Schalke 04 are hoping to come out on top against Bayern Munich this weekend, buoyed by victory in their Champions League opener against Olympiakos.

The Gelsenkirchen club beat the Greek side 2-1 on Tuesday but go into the match knowing that they failed to take a point from Bayern last season and also came away empty-handed from ties with eventual champions Borussia Dortmund.

Manager Horst Heldt said finding weaknesses in the Bayern line-up was always tough but unlike in the last campaign, when they lost 2-0 twice, they needed to be decisive against the current league-leaders.

"We were disappointed with how we played in the big games last season, with the exception of the home game against Dortmund (which they lost 2-1)," said Heldt.

"But in Dortmund and twice against Bayern we didn't have any courage. You can't win anything like that. Of course it's important to see to it that the team plays in a different manner.

"After all we're playing against one of the favourites for the championship."

Schalke go into the game with a doubt over midfielder Jermaine Jones, who suffered an ankle injury in the victory over Olympiakos, while Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes is expected to continue rotating his players, with strength in depth.

"We have some very good options personnel-wise," said Heynckes, whose side were 2-1 winners at home against Valencia in the Champions League mid-week. "I will not explain to my players why and how I am making changes. They must accept it."

Like fourth-placed Schalke, Dortmund have seven points. They are playing on Saturday at struggling Hamburg, who are second-to-last in the table after three defeats in three matches.

Dortmund needed a late goal by Robert Lewandowski to grab a 1-0 win at home over Ajax Amsterdam to kick off their Champions League campaign.

And coach Juergen Klopp will now analyse how the midfield duo of Mario Goetze and Marco Reus performed and if he wants to line them up together in Hamburg.

"We will have a lot of work before it works perfectly," admitted Reus.

Hamburg coach Thorsten Fink meanwhile said the Bundesliga champions were coming at exactly the perfect time.

"We are the underdogs on Saturday and we can only surprise in a positive manner," said Fink. "If I am given the time, we will move up the table."

The last time Hamburg had zero points after three matches was way back in September 1972. But the club's management still has faith in Fink.

"We are totally convinced of his work. He will get his time," said club chairman Carl-Edgar Jarchow.

Friday evening's match sees Nuremberg play Eintracht Frankfurt, with the newly-promoted side's coach Armin Veh, who guided VfB Stuttgart to the 2007 Bundesliga crown, upbeat after three straight wins in the opening games.

"I would be disappointed now if we don't win the championship," Veh joked in an interview with Kicker magazine. "That doesn't mean I don't take my work extremely seriously. But still I need a certain looseness."

Veh will have his sights set on stopping Nuremberg's Japanese star Hiroshi Kiyotake. The midfielder has delivered three assists and a goal in his last two matches and helped Nuremberg to seven points.

The other Saturday games see VfL Wolfsburg host Greuther Fuerth; Augsburg play at Mainz 05 in a battle of teams with just one point; and Freiburg heading to Fortuna Duesseldorf, the only team not to have conceded a goal this season.

On Sunday, Bayer Leverkusen host Borussia Moenchengladbach; Werder Bremen welcome VfB Stuttgart and Hanover 96 travel to last place Hoffenheim.

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