Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 and FC Bayern München both set Europe alight this week with 3-0 wins in their respective UEFA Champions League clashes with PFC CSKA Moskva and FC Steaua Bucuresti, and now they meet in what promises to be an electrifying encounter at the Veltins Arena on Saturday (kick-off 18:30 CEST).
Brothers in arms
Victory in Europe is not the only thing these two sides share either with the name Boateng providing another common denominator in the Matchday 6 encounter.
Half-brothers Kevin-Prince and Jerome line up on opposite sides, as they already have done for national teams Ghana and Germany, but this is the bread and butter of the Bundesliga. A brotherly battle of Berlin’s finest fraternity, and nobody will be holding back. “I’m really looking forward to the game against Jerome,” said Royal Blue Kevin-Prince. “He’s my brother, but I’d be disappointed if he did not give it his all against me.”
The pair may exchange shirts at the final whistle, but given their respective positions as a Schalke attacking midfielder and FC Bayern central defender, it will not be surprising should they get up close and personal before swapping attire. “There won’t be any family or friendly feelings,” said Kevin-Prince. “I cannot pay any attention to us being related when we are on the field.”
Schalke’s newest recruit is also expecting it to be a tight affair between a Bayern side who are looking to extend their 30-game unbeaten streak and a Schalke one who have kept three clean sheets in a row. “I think anything’s possible,” added Kevin-Prince. “The league situation doesn’t interest me. Of course Bayern have a team with many top players, but so do we. And we’re going to show that.
Some of the Bundesliga’s top talent will be on show in Saturday's showcase fixture. Alongside the Boatengs, German colleagues Julian Draxler and Toni Kroos clash in midfield while UEFA Best Player in Europe Franck Ribery and Bayern’s other wing wizard Arjen Robben will ensure Atsuto Uchida and Dennis Aogo have a busy evening.
Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer can also expect to be kept busy against his former club, yet his record since leaving the Royal Blues speaks for itself: four wins, four clean sheets. Germany’s No1 is keen to keep both of those records on Saturday. “I’m sure they want to put a spanner in the works. We’re going to have to be fully focused and have the right attitude, and we need to have a good day too,” Neuer said. “It’s going to be hard to beat them, but I’m glad when we keep a clean sheet, like the whole team is.”
Trailing Dortmund in the Bundesliga, Bayern and Jerome Boateng are determined to send out a message in their first league clash against one of last season's top four. “We want to impose ourselves and get the three points,” said the 25-year-old. “It makes no difference if Schalke are in good form or not. Everybody wants to show the other that they are not going to get anything.”
Schalke: Hildebrand - Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Aogo - Neustädter, Höger - Farfan, Boateng, Draxler - Szalai
Bayern: Neuer - Rafinha, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Lahm - Robben, Müller, Kroos, Ribery - Mandzukic