In their fifth Matchday 1 meeting, FC Bayern München topped Borussia Mönchengladbach three to one in a tilt that entertained from whistle to whistle.
On a day in which the Bundesliga was celebrating its 50th birthday, Die Roten and Die Fohlen provided the Friday night crowd with an edge-of-your-seat, end-to-end game.
A young exuberant team, Mönchengladbach had given FC Bayern a handful at home, with the Müncheners collecting only a point in their last two matches. This contest was performed under a different script, as Josep "Pep" Guardiola's stars were up to the opening night spotlight.
"We covered a lot of ground and went on the offensive," Franck Ribéry said post-match. "We’re pleased with the win because it was a tough match. But we went out there and enjoyed it."
Arjen Robben opened the scoring with a great run past Alvaro Dominguez in the 16th minute. Marc-Andre ter Stegen's goal kick could not clear Bastian Schweinsteiger, and his pass to Ribéry widened play enough for the Frenchman to arch a pass over to the breaking Robben. With ter Stegen charging off his line, a simple chip was enough to find the back of the net.
The scoreline doubled just four minutes later after Filip Daems brought down Robben of the right flank. Robben's ensuing free kick found Ribéry, who could not out-smart ter Stegen from point-blank range. Mario Mandžukić finished the rebound as the Croatian pushed the threshold to 2-0.
"The most important thing is always to dominate play and attack aggressively," said Robben. "We did that well at times today and put our opponents under pressure, but we need a little more time."
Mönchengladbach went on the offensive, with recent transfer Raffael leading the charge. The Brazilian attacker facilitated three chances in a matter of twelve minutes, but each time he could only search in the sky for answers.
Despite pounding blows from Raffael and fellow newcomer Max Kruse, it was former Fohlen Dante who put Mönchengladbach on the board in the 40th minute. A hopeful left-flank cross from Juan Arango turned into a miscommunication error between Dante and Manuel Neuer, and the line-drive caromed off the Brazilian defender and into the back of the net.
An enthralling one goal game came to its climax in the 68th minute. Dominguez became guilty of a hand ball off of a Thomas Müller touch. The Mönchengladbach escaped with a yellow card and put Müller on the spot. Ter Stegen flung his body to his left and put a glove to Müller's attempt.
Robben collected the rebound on the right side of the penalty area and put a hopeful cross in, where Dominguez's hand was once again in the way. Referee Tobias Weiz pointed to the spot for the second time in less than a minute as the passage of play just dumbfounded the Mönchengladbach players. David Alaba stepped to the spot in relief of Müller, and with his nonchalant style struck the ball past ter Stegen's right.
With a two goal lead restored, Guardiola brought on three defensive chips – Jan Kirchhoff for Schweinsteiger (73'), Rafinha for Müller (77'), and Javier Martinez for Toni Kroos (85') – to hold what ended up being a great beginning to a defending title run.
Guardiola, a manager that prides himself on perfection looked uneasy on the sideline throughout the match. The midfield turnovers, missed runs, and propensity for allowing counter attacks may seem like microcosms, but Guardiola's beady eyes saw things that gave him displeasure.
"We knew it would be a tough match," Guardiola said after the match. "It's always hard work against Gladbach. We had no control over the match in the first 15 minutes of the second half. We're satisfied with this first victory, but we need a couple more wins to build up our confidence."
Regardless of the criticisms he may have for his team, Guardiola's squad has a win in five of it's last six matches, two of which are relevant to another treble chase.
FC Bayern feature next in a friendly showcase against Györi ETO FC on Sunday before getting a six day rest in preparation for Eintracht Frankfurt in eight days time.
1:0 Robben (12')
2:0 Mandžukić (16')
2:1 Dante (OG 40')
3:1 Alaba (P 69')
Yellow Cards: Mandžukić / Kramer, Stranzl, Dominguez
FC Bayern: Neuer; Lahm, Dante, Boateng, Alaba; Schweinsteiger (Kirchhoff 73'); Robben, Kroos (Martínez 85'), Müller (Rafinha 77'); Mandžukić
Borussia Mönchengladbach: ter Stegen; Jantschke, Stranzl, Dominguez, Daems; Kramer (de Jong 85'), Xhaka; Herrmann (Hrgota 70'), Raffael, Arango (Younes 70'); Kruse