Preview: FC Bayern vs. Borussia Monchengladbach

Dennis Grombkowski

Friday night games are like tax returns: they're annoying, and they force you to re-arrange your schedule, but you only have to do them once a year. First place Bayern host 'Gladbach Foals in ...

Match Week 17 of the 2012-2013 Bundesliga season. FC Bayern sits in a pretty good spot, with a solid lead atop the Bundesliga standings and having already won the Champions League group. But with 2 more matches before the winter break, a slip-up could still come back to haunt us in our quest for the treble. 'Gladbach was a team that gave us some trouble last year (and that's putting it mildly).

The Line-Up

Last week, we heard that Arjen Robben was likely out with a nagging injury (this time it's his back, not his groin). But he was able to do a full practice with the rest of the squad this week, so he's possible. Great news on the Gustavo front as well: he has been able to jog and do stretching exercises, and is on schedule to return when the winter break is over. He's still unavailable for this clash, though (along with Emre Can and Holger Badstuber, of course).

As far as rotation: maybe 1 or 2 normal starters might get a break, but I think we'll see mostly a full squad. Keep in mind that (1) we had no midweek match (for the first time in over a month) and (2) BMG beat us twice last year, so we'd love to get a decisive victory in this one. Here's my guess:

Gomez

Ribery - Kroos - Mueller

Tymoschuk - Schweinsteiger

Alaba - Dante - van Buyten - Lahm

Neuer

Robben might get some minutes, but I'd bet as a second-half sub. Mandzukic and/or Pizarro would be the striker(s?) for the upcoming Pokal match. Dante, obviously, starts against his old club.

The Opponent

We discussed the Foals a bit earlier this week. Last season, they made a huge upward move, climbing from relegation battlers to a Champions League spot. Lucien Favre attracted attention with his counter-attacking style, and the whole team became known for defensive toughness and clutch performances. This year, they have fallen back a bit. Having lost Marco Reus and the aforementioned Dante, both of whom are playing lights-out right now, it's been more of a struggle. Particularly, they lost in their CL play-in round tie, crashed out of the Pokal on Halloween, and suffered ugly blowout losses on the road against Dortmund (5-0) and Werder Bremen (4-0). That Bremen loss, in particular, was probably their low point: 'Gladbach gave up 20 shots, 10 corners, and their quick-strike counter tactics were totally ineffective. If it weren't for ter Stegen, that might have been an even worse score-line, if you can believe that.

Since then, though, BMG have managed to stabilize their campaign. They got through to the knock-out stage of the Europa League, and they've actually lost only once in their last 8 in league play. Most recently, their win over Mainz was very reminiscent of last season: only 42 percent of the possession, but broke the other way quickly any time they got the ball, with goals from Mike Hanke and Juan Arango leading to the win. Yes, Bayern fans remember that formula very well.

One last note on BMG: he's struggled to consistently perform this season (and, indeed, has been in and out of the starting line-up), but, in my opinion, Granit Xhaka will one day be seen as a world-class star. Just file it away.

Elsewhere in the Competition

Bayern's big lead in the table makes it hard to identify who our closes chasers might be ... I guess you'd have to say Leverkusen (11 points back) and Dortmund (14 points). Those teams are at home vs. Hamburg and at Hoffenheim, respectively. Ordinarily, December would be too early to start talking about the relegation battle. But with 2 teams both stuck on the bottom of the table with 8 points (Augsburg and SpVgg), this could be an important week: those 2 play each other on Saturday morning.

Final Notes

- Our match kicks off from 8:30 PM local time tomorrow, and is carried live on Gol! TV. For the time in your area, click on the below graphic:

Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com

Keep in mind this is 15 minutes earlier than the usual CL mid-week start. We'll be here with the Match Day Thread before game time.

- Sidney posted a nice link to a video of a great goal from FC Bayern's women's side. Check it out.

- What does everyone prefer:

"Bayern has won 4 straight" (typical American style)

or

"Bayern have won 4 straight" (apparently how the British do it)?

I used to always say "Bayern has won" and "Bayern is better" and "Bayern beats their opponents," using the team's name as a collective, singular noun. I guess I've read enough British press recently that I sometimes find myself sometimes writing "Bayern have won" and "Bayern are better" and "Bayern beat their opponents" - in other words, treating the term like a plural noun. How do you guys usually say it in conversation?

Thanks for reading.

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