Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 will be looking for their first Bundesliga victory of the season on Saturday evening when they entertain Bayer 04 Leverkusen, who are yet to drop a point so far this campaign (kick-off 18.30 CET).
Schalke have been busy in the transfer market this week, sealing deals for Dennis Aogo from Hamburger SV (loan) and Kevin-Prince Boateng from Serie A giants AC Milan. Leverkusen, meanwhile, added more firepower to their already fearsome attack with the loan signing of Eren Derdiyok from 1899 Hoffenheim.
It has been a busy few days for Schalke. They discovered their fate in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League following a play-off victory over PAOK FC, before then entering the transfer market once more to seal deals for two seasoned Bundesliga professionals in Aogo and Boateng. "Dennis is a player whose versatility will be a big help to us," said sporting director Horst Heldt. "He gives us plenty of options."
Boateng, whose brother Jerome plays for FC Bayern Munich, is excited at the prospect of playing for die Königsblauen. "I'm delighted to join a club like Schalke 04," he said. "The Bundesliga is the best league in the world and the best players belong there. It was an easy decision for me and I'm happy to be home," said the 26-year-old, who could go straight into the matchday squad this weekend, over four years since the last of his 52 Bundesliga appearances.
The hosts have a number of first-team regulars missing for Saturday's encounter. Christian Fuchs and Benedikt Höwedes, who both saw red against Hannover 96 last weekend, miss out through suspension, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar remains sidelined with the knee injury he picked up at VfL Wolfsburg. Kyriakos Papadopolous, Chinedu Obasi and Anthony Annan are yet to return to fitness. Hungarian international Adam Szalai will continue to spearhead the attack.
Sami Hyypiä is likely to keep faith with the team that has notched up three straight Bundesliga victories for Leverkusen. Substitute goalkeeper Niklas Lomb and youngster Dominik Kohr are his side's only absentees, while signing Eren Derdiyok is likely to start on the bench. Stefan Kießling, Sidney Sam and Heung-Min Song will lead the attack for die Werkself.
Leverkusen can set a new club record with victory over Schalke on Saturday. Never before have Bayer won their first four Bundesliga matches. They boast a good record at the home of the Royal Blues, too, having only lost two of their previous 15 visits to Gelsenkirchen, drawing seven and winning six.
Hyypiä believes Schalke's victory over PAOK could prove to be a turning point in their season, however. "They are likely to have gained confidence from their Champions League success. Maybe they'll improve on Saturday," he said. "We have to focus on ourselves. It's important we start quickly and with the right intensity and do everything in our power to win."
Schalke: Hildebrand - Uchida, Matip, Felipe Santana, Aogo - Neustädter - Höger, Jones - Farfan, Draxler - Szalai
Leverkusen: Leno - Hilbert, Toprak, Spahic, Boenisch - Bender, Reinartz, Castro - Sam, Kießling, Son