Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04 Preview: Bavarians looking to extend lead at the top against struggling Royal Blues

Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04 Preview: Bavarians looking to extend lead at the top against struggling Royal Blues

Carlo Ancelotti's men could go six points clear if they win tomorrow afternoon - provided RB Leipzig are defeated at Dortmund.

Jack McGraghan

Bayern Munich meet Schalke 04 at the Allianz Arena tomorrow afternoon in a fixture that could see the Bavarians take a six point lead at the top of the Bundesliga - provided their title rivals RB Leipzig are defeated away to Borussia Dortmund later in the evening.

The visitors are currently sat in 11th in what has been a subpar season for them so far, and the fact that they are currently closer to the relegation places than they are to the European spots is not a fact Schalke fans or players will want to hear.

Bayern top the table despite not hitting their usual high standards

Despite Carlo Ancelotti's men leading the Bundesliga by three points, they have come under fire for performances that have not been quite as dominating as they are used to, with even Thomas Muller saying his poor goal return this season could be down to his side "not playing well offensively".

If this is Bayern playing badly though, then the rules that apply to most teams must be different when it comes to the Bavarians who haven't lost in anny competition since November, when they suffered a shock 3-2 defeat to FC Rostov in the UEFA Champions League.

Their two matches since the end of the winter break have resulted in 2-1 away wins against Freiburg and Werder Bremen, with Bayern having to come from a goal down in the former match whilst a second half strike from Max Kruse in the latter had the visitors on edge for a good portion of the game.

Although players such as Thomas Muller, who has scored just once in the Bundesliga this season, aren't performing as well as they know they can do there is at least one man who can be relied on to deliver the goods time and time again in the form of Robert Lewandowski.

The Polish striker has 14 league goals this season and is second only to Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the top scorer stakes, with both of these players showing why they are considered as two of the best strikers in Europe at the present moment.

Choupo-Moting is a man who needs to find the net more often if Schalke are to improve.

Schalke's league position a result of their incredibly inconsistent form

Schalke endured a shocking start to the season under manager Markus Weinzierl, as they lost all five of their opening Bundesliga matches and were rooted to the foot of the table.

Their form turned a corner after this barren run however, and they went on an impressive unbeaten run across all competitions stretching over a total of 12 games that saw them rise up the table and had fans thinking European qualifcation was a real possibility as they had hoped prior to the start of the season.

However now their form has hit the floor once again and they have now won just two of their last seven matches, with their last fixture a disappointing home loss to surprise package Eintracht Frankfurt thanks to a solitary Alexander Meier strike.

Goals have been hard to come by for much of the campaign for Die Königsblauen, with their top scorer Nabil Bentaleb sitting on just four goals in the league with strikers such as Maxim Choupo-Moting and the usual attacking midfielder Max Meyer not providing the golden touch required in the final third.

The head to head record between Schalke and Bayern in recent times swings very favourably in the direction of the hosts, who have not lost to tomorrow's opponents  in the league since a 2-0 defeat in December 2010.

Team news

The hosts have received some good news on the injury front with Arturo Vidal and Thiago Alcantara now fit and ready to return to the starting eleven if Ancelotti sees fit, although Jerome Boateng and Franck Ribery are the two men that will definitely not play a part in tomorrow's match.

The visitors still have Breel Embolo, Coke and Franco Di Santo all out with long-term injuries and although veteran striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar has returned to training it is unlikely that he will be fit enough to take part tomorrow. Attacking midfieler turned striker Meyer was struck down with a bout of flu recently and as a result may have to start the game from the bench. 

Predicted line-ups

Bayern Munich (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Alaba, Martinez, Hummels, Lahm; Alonso, Thiago; Costa, Muller, Robben; Lewandowski.

FC Schalke 04 (3-1-4-2): Fahrmann; Howedes, Naldo, Nastasic; Geis; Schopf, Goretzka, Bentaleb, Kolasinac; Choupo-Moting, Burgstaller.