FC Bayern took to the pitch in Gelsenkirchen. The banners held up by the Schalke fans weren't pretty. The abuse Manuel Neuer suffered would have forced many a player to simply leave the pitch. However, Neuer allowed the words to pass through one ear and simply leave through the other. He remained steady and intervened for Bayern when Schalke caught his side out.
Neuer did Schalke a favour by leaving.
Schalke needed the money and he left a season early just to make sure that Bayern had to pay Schalke a high transfer fee. Schalke fans shouldn't forget the tearful news conference in which Neuer announced his departure. Also, Neuer's boots have been somewhat filled by the fantastic Ralf Fahrmann.Schalke received more bad news today as Ralf Rangnick stepped down as head coach due to health problems.
As far as the match went, this wasn't exactly a great performance by Bayern.
They were put under the gun by Schalke in the first half. Neuer saved once, as I mentioned. The match was even in terms of chances but Bayern had the upper-hand. Nils Petersen, who was deputizing for the injured Mario Gomez, opened the scoring.
The goal came via a counter-attack initiated by Franck Ribery following a Schalke free-kick. Petersen's first attempt was saved; his second attempt deflected off a defender into the net. Petersen missed a great chance later on in the match. However, what must be said is that his sense of positioning is quite brilliant.
From then on, Bayern took control.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar missed two great chances in the match. Bayern took control in the second half and scored with about fifteen minutes left through Thomas Mueller. The match saw plenty of fouls, especially from Schalke. Luis Gustavo had to be substituted before half-time due to a bad tackle. He was replaced by Anatoliy Tymoschchuk. Bayern is top of the table, two points ahead of Bremen and Monchengladbach.
Leverkusen will bring back fond memories from last season for Bayern. Bayern thrashed Leverkusen, 5-1, not too long ago at the Allianz Arena. Leverkusen will be coming to play Bayern on the back of two defeats. They lost to Chelsea, 2-0, at Stamford Bridge. That game could have easily finished at 1-1. Koeln gave them a thrashing in Bayer's own backyard. 1-4 was the final score.
Andre Schuerrle was sent off in the dying minutes. He had a frustrating night. Lukas Podolski put in a brilliant display in the Rhineland derby and outshone Schuerrle under the watchful eyes of Joachim Loew. Michal Kadlec will also be suspended for a foul in Dortmund. Michael Ballack is out with flu. Rene Adler, Daniel Schwaab and Tranquillo Barnetta are all out with long term injuries. Keeper Bernd Leno on loan from Stuttgart has done well in goal.
Bayern's injured stars are all set to return.
Mario Gomez will start against Leverkusen according to recent comments made by Jupp Heynckes. Arjen Robben will also return but won't displace the consistent Toni Kroos. Robben will probably start in midweek against Manchester City, unless he gets injured somehow in the next week, of course. Daniel Van Buyten has recovered and is training again. Gustavo has apparently recovered and Ivica Olic is nearing a comeback.
In other news, Breno's house was burnt by a fire. The defender who is still recovering from injury was unhurt. His family wasn't home during the fire.
Going back to the match against Leverkusen, the Rhineland team's nerves will be put to the test against Bayern. They don't want to get thrashed again, of course. Omer Toprak and Stefan Reinartz will need to hold off Gomez at the centre of Leverkusen's defence. Simon Rolfes will need to out-think Bastian Schweinsteiger. All these things are easier said that done.
On the other hand, Bayern will be happy with the fact that they don't have to deal with Schuerrle, thanks to his suspension. They will still have to deal with Sidney Sam and Stefan Kiessling though.
As far as the prediction goes, I think Bayern will record another win. It will be hard-fought though.
Prediction: Bayern 2-1 Leverkusen