Bayern Munich continue their defence of the Bundesliga title on Saturday night, with their biggest challenge yet – a trip to Gelsenkirchen to face Schalke 04.
The Pep Guardiola era so far has been good but not perfect – Bayern are two points behind league leaders Borussia Dortmund, and sporting director Matthias Sammer said last week they need to play with more “emotion”.
The transition will be difficult, and Uwe Rosler – Brentford manager, former East Germany international and BT Sport Bundesliga pundit – told The Independent that Bayern must be patient.
“It is very, very difficult – even if Jupp Heynckes had stayed on – to keep the team going after what they achieved last year, also winning the Super Cup,” Rosler said. “Winning the title, having the best player in Europe in their team, it can’t get better than that.”
“Guardiola challenged the players in pre-season, Philipp Lahm in central midfield, Thomas Mueller in centre-forward alone, and Bastian Schweinsteiger out of position. These are very difficult things to understand. But I think he has thrown things on them to make them interesting, curious and challenging them to perform. And I think the big hitters – Franck Ribery, Lahm, Arjen Robben – they bought in to that concept.”
“The way he wants to play, that needs time. With Barcelona, all of those players grew up in La Masia, the academy, and brought their style into the first time. Now you have to tell a team who played one way to play a different way, of course you are world class players who will naturally understand it quickly, but still. To get the mechanism, the relations between the players and the units optimal, it will take time.”
This means that, even after the departure of Mario Goetze from Dortmund to Munich this summer, Rosler sees Dortmund as marginal favourites. “Dortmund are more used to their coach, to the way they play, are more experienced playing in Europe and in the league, they will probably have an advantage, yes, but I don’t think that they will run away. And it will go to the wire.”
So this will not be an easy game at the Veltins-Arena, where Schalke have beaten Bayer Leverkusen and Steaua Bucharest in their last two games. “It is a very difficult place to go,” said Rosler, “a very intimidating place, 60,000 people. And Schalke are facing a team who are still in transition from one manager to another Long-term, Bayern, Dortmund and Schalke – those are the three forces.”
Watch BT Sport’s exclusively live coverage of Schalke v Bayern Munich on BT Sport 1 from 5.30pm on Saturday 21 September. Each matchweek at 6.45pm on BT Sport 1, Sunday Night Football covers the game across the continent.”