Family affair in Bayern's clash with Schalke
BERLIN, Sept 13 (Reuters) - It will be a family affair at the Allianz Arena on Saturday when twins Hamit and Halil Altintop line up on opposite sides in the Bundesliga clash between Bayern Munich and Schalke 04.
Hamit Altintop moved from Schalke to Bayern, leaving his brother behind, as part of the Bavarian club's 70 million euros renovation job over the close season.
The 24-year-old midfielder has been instrumental in his new club's brilliant start to the season, helping them rack up three wins and a draw in their first four games and build a three-point lead at the top.
Hamit and Schalke's Halil played alongside each other in Turkey's Euro 2008 qualifiers against Malta and Hungary but in Munich on Saturday things will be very different.
'It will be a strange feeling lining up against one another,' Halil told Kicker this week. 'Especially after being so close for 11 or 12 days (on international duty).'
Bayern are red hot favourites for the title but they will not be at full strength for what is sure to be their toughest home game so far this season.
Luca Toni suffered a thigh injury in scoring his third league goal against Hanover 96 on Aug. 25 and the Italian striker is still rated doubtful.
Jan Schlaudraff is still also some way from full recovery from his slipped disc, meaning Miroslav Klose will be the only specialist striker available to coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.
The good news for Bayern is that Klose showed he is back in top form by scoring both goals in Germany's comfortable victory over Wales in their Euro 2008 qualifier.
Schalke are one of two or three teams who could deny Bayern a 21st German title this season.
They have not started the season anything like as well - they are in seventh place with six points - but coach Mirko Slomka can welcomed back Brazilian centre-back and club captain Marcelo Bordon from a knee injury.
One of the other title hopefuls, Werder Bremen, have the chance to join Bayern at the top, at least for one night, when they travel to face Borussia Dortmund on Friday.
A Werder side hit by injuries to key players looked on their last legs going into the international break.
They just managed to seal a place in the Champions League and stayed within striking distance of Bayern by winning 2-1 at home to Eintracht Frankfurt in their last league outing.
Torsten Frings and Tim Borowski are both still on the casualty list but the break should have brought some relief and they will be favourites against Thomas Doll's unpredictable Dortmund.
Champions VfB Stuttgart, fourth from bottom with just four points, will be confident of getting their season back on track when they host Energie Cottbus on Saturday.