Berlin (AFP) – After comprehensive wins in Europe and the Bundesliga over the past week, Bayern Munich will switch their attention to the German Cup on Tuesday against an out-of-sorts Schalke in the quarter-finals.
Bayern marked themselves out as Champions League title contenders with a 3-0 rout of Chelsea in London last week, backing it up in a 6-0 win at Hoffenheim despite the loss of star forward Robert Lewandowski to injury.
Philippe Coutinho scored twice and Thomas Mueller contributed two assists in the Pole’s absence, but the game was overshadowed by a banner attacking Hoffenheim’s billionaire investor Dietmar Hopp.
It was the latest in a series of insults directed towards Hopp, an unpopular figure among German football fans for circumventing the league’s traditional fan-ownership model to invest vast sums in the village club.
Bayern have founded an “anti-hate” committee which will work closely with the police in Mannheim over the offensive banner unfurled at Hoffenheim’s stadium.
Club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said the culprits “must of course expect to be punished by Bayern Munich. We don’t want to see this hateful face of FC Bayern any more.”
“We can’t go back to business as usual,” he added. He said the committee would help the police identify those responsible “and also look at how we deal with this issue in the future.”
Bayern are heavy favourites to overcome a Schalke side whose promising early-season form has tailed off dramatically, with just one win in their past nine league games.
“It’s going to be a difficult game and the team know that going in. But we’ll take on the challenge,” said Schalke coach David Wagner.
“We know we’re underdogs. Sometimes it works in your favour though, knowing that you simply never know what’s going to happen in any given game.”
Bayern are unbeaten in 20 matches against Schalke in all competitions and thrashed the Royal Blues 5-0 in Munich at the end of January.
In-form Bayer Leverkusen, fifth in the top flight, have qualified for the Europa League last 16 and are at home to Union Berlin on Wednesday, while Eintracht host Werder Bremen.
The latter tie is a reverse of Sunday’s fixture that was postponed after Eintracht’s Europa League second leg in Austria was pushed back 24 hours because of storms.
Fourth-tier Saarbrucken meet Bundesliga strugglers Fortuna Duesseldorf in the first quarter-final on Tuesday.
Saarbrucken v Fortuna Duesseldorf (1730), Schalke v Bayern Munich (1945)
Bayer Leverkusen v Union Berlin (1730), Eintracht Frankfurt v Werder Bremen (1945)
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