The DFB-Pokal is back at the Allianz Arena for the quarter-final clash between Bayern Munich and Schalke 04. The final game of the four this week will be an interesting encounter considering the current form of both teams.
After the last Bundesliga matchday, each side are in a different mood - on one hand, the Bavarians gained confidence by winning 8-0 against Hamburger SV, while the Königsblauen drew 1-1 with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim after a disappointing performance despite a good start.
The away side’s season is far from ideal under Markus Weinzierl, as a poor start was followed by an impressive winning streak. The club has been quite inconsistent on the pitch, especially in Bundesliga. As a result, they only have 27 points, which means making European football next year will be tough unless they win the Pokal or react quickly. Otherwise, in the UEFA Europa League as well as in the other cup games, the Royal Blues have always shown their best.
This attitude helped them to reach the quarter-final of the DFB-Pokal by beating Villingen, 1. FC Nürnberg and SV Sandhausen. They also secured their place in the last 16 of the Europa League after beating PAOK 4-1 on aggregate. If we forget the Bundesliga, Schalke's season isn’t as bad as it looks.
It has not been an easy year either for Carlo Ancelotti's men since he took charge. Even if they’re on top of the league, after being surpassed for a moment by RB Leipzig, still in the UEFA Champions league and DFB-Pokal, the way they are playing almost every weekend is not at the expected level. Many players such as Thomas Müller and David Alaba are having difficult seasons, and playing far below their standards.
By watching the Bayern Munich it is clear to see that they are sloppy at times and if they are not fully concentrated, something can and will happen. Repeating a performance such as the one against HSV will be key to show that they've turned a corner.
What are the expectations of both managers ahead of the game?
The Bayern head coach confirmed the importance of their HSV win in his press conference: “The match against HSV has given us confidence.” Though he did admit the game against Schalke 04 is “different” and the Bavarians will give their best to reach the next level.
But it will not be easy against a motivated side if the declarations of Weinzierl are to be believed: "It's important that we believe we can make it to the semi-finals. We're completely motivated!" Moreover, they already proved in Bundesliga that they can challenge their opponent as they did two weeks ago. They drew 1-1 at the Allianz but have run Bayern close a few times in the past few seasons. It is obvious that this is a key game for the Ruhr side if they want to keep up their cup success.
Concerning team news, both teams will have to do without important players. Renato Sanches will miss the game due to a cold while Jerome Boateng is still recovering from his shoulder injury. There are also question marks over David Alaba and Sead Kolasinac who have slight problems, a decision should be made just before the game according to their respective coaches.