Bay­ern and Schalke fight for the scraps

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

WHEN last sea­son’s run­ner­sup Schalke 04 host cham­pi­ons Bay­ern Mu­nich to­day it will not be a clash for top spot in the Bun­desliga but a bit­ter fight for both clubs to res­cue their sea­son.

Schalke are 15th in the 18team league, just one point off the rel­e­ga­tion zone, while Bayer n only last week climbed to fifth, a mas­sive 14 points be­hind lead­ers Borus­sia Dort­mund.

With only three games left un­til the win­ter break the two teams are des­per­ate for points so as not to miss out on their re­vised tar­gets.

Bay­ern have not yet writ­ten off the ti­tle but clinch­ing a Cham­pi­ons League spot is their new pri­or­ity while Schalke will be happy to avoid the drop and fin­ish in mid-ta­ble.

Both coaches re­ceived their clubs’ sup­port this week, Schalke’s Felix Ma­gath be­ing backed dur­ing cri­sis talks on Wed­nes­day and Louis van Gaal get­ting a stand­ing ova­tion at Bay­ern’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing on Tues­day.

“It is nor­mal for the board to sit down and dis­cuss our sport­ing sit­u­a­tion,” said Ma­gath, who spent tens of mil­lions of eu­ros in the close sea­son to buy strik­ers Raul and Klaas-Jan Hun­te­laar. “I do not know if the board cov­ered my back but I had the feel­ing ev­ery­one was con­fi­dent.”

Schalke have only won two matches at home this sea­son and Ma­gath has cracked down on his play­ers this week, cut­ting their win­ter hol­i­days and start­ing train­ing ses­sions an hour ear­lier amid heavy snow­fall.

Schalke ad­vanced to the Cham­pi­ons League round of 16 eight days ago – a ma­jor suc­cess – but last week slumped to an em­bar­rass­ing 5-0 de­feat at Kais­er­slautern.

Bay­ern, also through in the Cham­pi­ons League, have re­cov­ered af­ter a rocky start in the Bun­desliga. Hav­ing gone un­beaten in seven league games, Bay­ern look to be on the road to re­cov­ery.

Lead­ers Dort­mund visit mid-ta­ble Nurem­berg – Reuters

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