GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany (AP) — With players keen to avoid injury risks ahead of the World Cup, Bayern Munich stretched its Bundesliga lead to six points after a 2-0 win over Schalke on Saturday in its last game before the tournament in Qatar.
Bayern lacked some of its usual intensity as Julian Nagelmann’s team cruised to victory against last-place Schalke thanks to goals from Serge Gnabry and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Bayern was without Sadio Mane — because of a fibula injury which has made the Senegal forward a World Cup doubt — while Canada left back Alphonso Davies has a muscle issue and Nagelsmann opted not to risk Thomas Muller after the experienced German had a run of minor injuries.
Schalke held Bayern at bay until the 38th minute when Gnabry ran onto Jamal Musiala’s smart backheel pass to score the opener. Choupo-Moting, heading to his third World Cup with Cameroon, finished off a quick counterattack in the 52nd for his seventh goal in his last seven Bundesliga games.
Bayern forward Leroy Sane’s younger brother Sidi made his league debut off the bench for Schalke. The brothers weren’t on the field together as Leroy was taken off five minutes before his 19-year-old brother came on.
Around the country, German fan groups continued to display banners urging fans not to watch the upcoming World Cup. A large banner reading “Boycott Qatar 2022” was displayed along one side of Hertha Berlin’s stadium, and similar messages were shown at Schalke, Werder Bremen, Augsburg and at other games.
Leipzig rose to second with a 2-1 win at Bremen. Xaver Schlager surged into the penalty area and held off a stern challenge from Amos Pieper to restore Leipzig’s lead in the 71st minute after a fortunate deflected equalizer for promoted Werder. Leipzig could drop back to fourth depending on results Sunday.
Bayer Leverkusen continued its recent resurgence under coach Xabi Alonso, beating Stuttgart 2-0 for its third consecutive win to move up to 11th after weeks of hovering just above the relegation zone. Forward Moussa Diaby scored for the sixth time in Leverkusen’s last seven league games.
Ecuador midfielder Carlos Gruezo covered his face with his jersey and was comforted by his Augsburg teammates as he limped off with an injury that could put his World Cup chances in jeopardy. Bochum beat Augsburg 1-0 for its third win in five league games but remains second from last.
Ridle Baku was overlooked for Germany’s World Cup squad but the Wolfsburg wing back responded by scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 defeat of Hoffenheim. Goals from Wilfried Kanga and Marco Richter lifted Hertha Berlin to a 2-0 win over Cologne to stay clear of the relegation places.