PREVIEW-Soccer-Schalke hail new prince as Bayern clash looms

BERLIN, Sept 19 Thu Sep 19, 2013 1:48pm IST

BERLIN, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Kevin-Prince Boateng continued his stellar start to life at Schalke 04 by helping them secure a third straight win since he joined the Ruhr Valley club but his talismanic credentials will be given their sternest test against Bayern Munich on Saturday.

The Ghana international, who joined Schalke just three weeks ago, scored one goal and helped orchestrate a 3-0 win over Steaua Bucharest in the club's opening Champions League group match on Wednesday.

It was Schalke's third win without conceding since Boateng, whose powerful midfield presence has formed a strong bond between defence and attack, signed from AC Milan.

"Kevin-Prince does not shy away from a challenge easily," Schalke coach Jens Keller told reporters.

"He always makes himself available and demands the ball. He talks to the team and leads it and it is very clear that he has already become a very important player in this team."

Boateng's arrival could not have come at a better time for Schalke, who are missing injured leading striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and defensive rock Kyriakos Papadopoulos.

The 26-year-old German-born midfielder, whose half brother Jerome plays for Bayern and Germany, was welcomed with open arms despite his past spell at rivals Borussia Dortmund, and has quickly become a crowd favourite.

VALUABLE EXPERIENCE

His experience, with stints at Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth before joining Milan in 2010, has proved invaluable at a key moment for Schalke, who are looking to re-establish themselves as a major force.

"We have got every reason to be satisfied with this win," a smiling Boateng told reporters on Wednesday.

"Everyone in the dressing room is very happy with this excellent team performance. We know we have some tough games coming up but we are prepared."

The "Boateng effect" has restored Schalke's Bundesliga ambitions after they failed to win any of their first three league games before the arrival of the player once branded a 'bad boy' for his off-pitch antics.

"It is great for us to have played three straight games without conceding a goal," added Julian Draxler, who set up Boateng for Schalke's second goal in the 78th minute before scoring the third himself.

"Our game with Kevin is coming together and is becoming better. We are on a very good road."

However, treble winners Bayern, two points behind leaders Dortmund, are riding high after a solid 3-0 Champions League win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday, boosting their confidence as they look to extend their 30-game unbeaten run in the league.

Dortmund, still licking their wounds after a 2-1 defeat at Napoli in the same competition, travel to Nuremberg in the hope of extending their perfect start to the league season with a sixth straight victory. (Editing by John O'Brien)

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