Bayern without fans, Coman, Alcantara for season opener
BERLIN, SEPT 18: Bayern Munich must host Schalke behind closed doors in Friday's opening game of the new Bundesliga season as the defending champions begin their hunt for a ninth straight league title minus playmaker Thiago Alcantara and with Kingsley Coman in quarantine.
On Thursday, it was confirmed that Spain midfielder Alcantara is joining Liverpool, meaning Bayern have lost four of the squad which won last month's Champions League final.
Ivan Perisic, Philippe Coutinho and Alvaro Odriozola have returned to Inter Milan, Barcelona and Real Madrid respectively after their loan deals expired.
After seven league titles in as many years with Bayern, Alcantara's farewell was "very emotional", said coach Hansi Flick. "Everyone was sad when he said goodbye."
The European champions, who won the treble last season, still hope to make fresh signings before the transfer window closes on October 5.
"Things are currently very tight, but we don't want to complain," Flick said referring to squad numbers.
There was more bad news as plans to welcome a limited crowd of 7,500 to the Allianz Arena were blocked by the mayor of Munich, because of a rising rate of coronavirus infections.
However, set numbers of fans are expected for the first time since March at other Bundesliga matches over the weekend.
The individual crowd numbers will depend on permission from each club's local health authority.
Bayern are also without Coman who scored the winner in the Champions League final but is now self-isolating after coming into contact with someone infected with Covid-19.
"He won't play," confirmed Flick, who said Coman has already returned "three or four" negative tests for the virus.
Flick hopes to have the France international back for Bayern's UEFA Super Cup showdown against Europa League holders Sevilla next Thursday in Budapest.
That match is due to go ahead even with the Hungarian capital on the German government's risk list.
Despite the off-field distractions, Bayern are focused on picking up where they left off last season.
They ended the campaign on an all-conquering 21-match winning run, which they aim to extend against cash-strapped Schalke, whose mounting debts were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
"We're on the right track and I expect the team to keep it up. We face opponents who are looking for their chances," said Flick.
Germany winger Leroy Sane is set to make his Bayern debut after signing from Manchester City while Schalke will be without injured defenders Matija Nastasic and Salif Sane. -AFP