Perisic set for Bayern bow but Kovac ‘won’t take any risks’ with Coutinho
The Brazil international joined the German champions on loan from Barcelona this week.
Bayern Munich boss Niko Kovac is set to hand Ivan Perisic his debut against Schalke this weekend but fellow new signing Philippe Coutinho will not be thrown straight into the fray.
Coutinho joined Bayern this week on a season-long loan from Barcelona, with the Bundesliga champions then having the option to buy the 27-year-old for £109.8million.
The Brazil playmaker’s arrival should help cover the loss of Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and James Rodriguez, who all left the Bavarian giants this summer, but a lack of match fitness means he may have to wait for his first involvement.
Speaking at a press conference, Kovac said: “He is not quite at the level of fitness he needs to play for 90 minutes.
“He has said that himself, and we don’t want to take any risks. He has only been training for the last two weeks, so he needs to catch up.
“I know a lot of people want us to play him straight away, but everything has to be right.
“He’s a world-class footballer and a very modest young man. We want to integrate him into the team.”
Perisic is expected to make his Bayern bow this weekend following his loan move from Inter Milan
The Croatia winger missed the season-opening draw with Hertha Berlin through suspension but is available now and could start against Schalke.
“Ivan is much further along, he started training at the same time as we did, and played several games for Inter Milan in pre-season,” said Kovac.
“He’s at the same fitness level as our other players because he took up training earlier than Philippe. I’m very glad we have him.
“He’s an option (against Schalke), maybe from the start.”
The seven-time reigning Bundesliga champions will be keen to secure their first victory of the season when they visit the Veltins-Arena, having been held at home by Hertha last weekend.
Bayern have a hugely impressive recent record against Schalke, winning 15 of their last 18 matches against the Gelsenkirchen outfit and drawing the other three.
Despite the fact Bayern have not lost to Schalke since 2010, Kovac is not underestimating the powers of a passionate home crowd and new manager David Wagner.
“Schalke are aggressive, they’re strong in defence and at turnovers. We must be prepared,” he said.
“It’s the first home game for the new coach so they will be motivated.”
Former Huddersfield boss Wagner was appointed as Schalke coach in May and he too is looking for his first win of the new season following last weekend’s goalless draw with Borussia Monchengladbach.
Wagner knows it will be tough against the champions, but is not ruling out a home win.
“We don’t need to talk about how good Bayern are. There’s always a chance in football, which makes it so exciting. We will only have that chance if we perform to our best though,” he said at the club’s pre-match press conference.
“What’s better than playing Bayern in your first home game of the season?”