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Foals before Zebras: Bayern Munich vs Borussia Mönchengladbach

arjen-robben_bayernThe Bundesliga is fond of doing scheduling favors for the top teams where it can. Therefore, FC Bayern will be at home to ‘Gladbach in a rare Friday match that will give the team a little bit more time to rest up for the all-important Juventus match on Tuesday. ESPN came to their senses and will show the match on live ESPN 360 at 2:30 p.m. Eastern after previously displaying Saturday and Sunday coverage for this weekend. It does not appear the match will be available on ESPN Deportes. But the important thing for the team to remember here is that they are walking into a classic “trap game”.

Foals on the gallop

Over the course of the last 5 matches, ‘Gladbach tops the Bundesliga form table, with 3 victories and 2 draws. They’ve managed to beat Hamburg away and Schalke at home, two achievements that eluded Bayern. They are tied with Dortmund and Bayern for fewest goals allowed over that span (3) as well. Their scoring is making Offside headlines as well. It must be said of course, that their co-leading scorer, Roel Brouwers is best described as a journeyman central defender who happens to have scored all 3 of goals via header. Playmakers young (Reus) and old(er) (Arango) they have, lethal finishing up front, perhaps not so much. Friday will also likely mark the last trip to the Allianz for Oliver Neuville. Capped 69 times for Germany, the Swiss-born Neuville will turn 37 this spring when his contract runs out and will probably call it a career, moving on to devote more time to explaining how his last name should be pronounced. USA Soccer fans will enjoy the opportunity to see Michael Bradley in action. The American midfielder scored the equalizer in a 2-2 draw at ‘Gladbach last season, one of the bigger groaners of the Klinsmann era. We should also keep our eyes on young Belgian keeper Logan Bailly, who will be one of the names tossed about in the Bayern keeper transfer rumors.

On a mini-roll

Louis van Gaal looks set to stay with the hot feet and trot out the same starting 11 he has used the last couple of weeks. The added bonus is that Arjen Robben appears ready to put in an appearance as a substitute. The team has kept quiet about Miroslav Klose’s status for the match thus far, and while Franck Ribery has returned to full training, he will not be a part of the squad. Danijel Pranjic’s opportunity continue,s but I look for him to get the early hook in favor of Robben if he plays anything like he did in Hannover (again, assist excepted). I do not expect ‘Gladbach to simply camp out at the back, and Lahm will be tested by Arango, who keyed the victory over Hamburg. Weather could also be a factor in this one. The forecast low in Munich for Friday is 32F, with a 30% chance of snow.

The prediction

I will not be at all surprised if Bayern fall behind in this one. True, it is a home match against an inferior opponent, but there are a lot of reasons for ‘Gladbach to be confident, and a lot of reasons for Bayern to be thinking ahead. Then, I come to my senses and realize that ‘Gladbach is a team coached by Michael Frontzeck, and a team that has only ever won in Munich once.

FC Bayern Munich 3:1 Borussia Mönchengladbach

The rear view mirror

It’s almost unavoidable to do a piece on Bayern-’Gladbach without recalling that this was the footballing rivalry of the 1970’s in Germany. The teams ascended to the Bundesliga in the same season, and won their first titles there a year apart. Below you’ll find the highlights of one of their top matches, played December 8, 1973 at the almost brand spanking new Olympic Stadium in Munich. Bayern would go on to win the Bundesliga by a single point that season, their last of the decade, while Gerd Müller and ‘Gladbach’s Jupp Heynckes would share the title of Torschützenkönig with 30 apiece.

For the record:

FC Bayern Munich 4:3 Borussia Mönchengladbach

Roth 4′ 1-0

Wimmer 5′ 1-1

Jensen 18′ 1-2

Müller 20′ 2-2

Zobel 23′ 3-2

Hoeness 64′ 4-2

Bonhof 88′ 4-3

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