Bayern stretches Bundesliga lead ahead of World Cup break

With players keen to avoid injury risks ahead of the World Cup, Bayern Munich extended their Bundesliga lead to six points after a 2-0 victory over Schalke on Saturday in their final game before the tournament in Qatar.

Bayern lacked their usual intensity as Julian Nagelmann’s side cruised to victory over last-placed Schalke thanks to goals from Serge Gnabry and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Bayern were without Sadio Mané – due to a fibula injury which made the Senegal striker doubtful of the World Cup – while Canadian left-back Alphonso Davies has a muscle problem and Nagelsmann chose not to risk Thomas Müller after the experienced German suffered a series of minor injuries. .

Schalke held Bayern at bay until the 38th minute when Gnabry ran in on Jamal Musiala’s clever pass to score the opener. Choupo-Moting, en route to his third World Cup with Cameroon, completed a quick counterattack in the 52nd for his seventh goal in his last seven Bundesliga games.

Bayern striker Leroy Sané’s younger brother Sidi made his league debut as a bench for Schalke. The brothers weren’t on the pitch together as Leroy was taken off five minutes before his 19-year-old brother arrived.

Across the country, groups of German fans continued to display banners urging fans not to watch the upcoming World Cup. A large banner reading “Boycott Qatar 2022” was displayed on one side of Hertha Berlin’s stadium, and similar messages were broadcast at Schalke, Werder Bremen, Augsburg and other games.

Leipzig moved into second place with a 2-1 win at Bremen. Xaver Schlager burst into the penalty area and held off a stern challenge from Amos Pieper to restore Leipzig’s lead in the 71st minute after a happy deflected equalizer for promoted Werder. Leipzig could fall back to fourth place depending on Sunday’s results.

Bayer Leverkusen continued their recent resurgence under coach Xabi Alonso, beating Stuttgart 2-0 for their third straight win to move up to 11th after weeks of hovering just above the relegation zone. Striker Moussa Diaby has scored for the sixth time in Leverkusen’s last seven league games.

Ecuadorian midfielder Carlos Gruezo covered his face with his shirt and was comforted by his Augsburg team-mates as he limped off with an injury that could jeopardize his World Cup chances. Bochum beat Augsburg 1-0 for their third victory in five league games but remain penultimate.

Ridle Baku was overlooked by Germany’s World Cup side but the Wolfsburg wing-back responded by scoring the winning goal in a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim. Goals from Wilfried Kanga and Marco Richter earned Hertha Berlin a 2-0 win over Cologne to stay clear of the relegation spots.

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AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/world-cup and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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