The Bundesliga hand an astounding week in Europe, and Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach were two major contributors to the league's success. Bayern's 7-1 squashing of AS Roma came two days before Mönchengladbach's 5-0 domination of Apallon.
The two top teams in the Bundesliga now take their midweek momentum into the weekend in a fixture that has dazzled neutrals over the past three seasons. They are the two best defenses in the Bundesliga, and they possess two of the top Bundesliga scorers so far this season – Mario Götze and Max Kruse.
Bayern has won four times over the past 10 years in Borussia Park, but three of them coming in the last three seasons. The German champions will be the more rested side, an simple advantage that could be the difference maker in the match.
The Match (100th Meeting)
Location: Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany
Head: Felix Zwayer
FC Bayern: 9 W, 1 D, 2 L – 15 YC, 2 RC
Assistants: Florian Steuer, Harm Osmers
Fourth Official: Bibiana Steinhaus
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Bundesliga: 45 W, 27 D, 20 L
DFB Pokal: 6 W, 0 D, 1 L
Largest Victory: 7-1 (Bundesliga: March 24, 1979, Munich)
Largest Defeat: 0-5 (Bundesliga: May 18, 1974, Mönchengladbach)
For the third year in a row, Bayern's form has kicked into high gear in October. They may have given up their first goal in 814 minutes, but that concession seems minuscule compared to the 13 goals Bayern have scored in the last two matches.
An already potent attack might now get a key contributor back. Pep Guardiola has brought Franck Ribéry off the bench in the last two matches, and he could be ready to make his first start of the season. He will fill a major void on the left side, one that Juan Bernat and David Alaba have had to fill.
The defense has continued to evolve throughout the season, but Xabi Alonso and Jérôme Boateng have been the integral vertebrae of Bayern's spine. An odd aspect in the back is how minuscule Mehdi Benatia has seen the field. He has started just one Bundesliga match since his transfer from Italy. With another midweek match upcoming, Benatia will inevitably get more work, which could give him the opening he needs to cement the spot next to Boateng.
Guardiola has already deemed this stretch of matches "the most important 10 days of the Hinrunde," and his team sheets will reflect as such.
Projected Lineup (3-3-3-1):
Franck Ribéry – Mario Götze – Arjen Robben
Sebastian Rode – Xabi Alonso – Philipp Lahm
David Alaba – Jérôme Boateng – Mehdi Benatia
Bench: Leopold Zingerle, Juan Bernat, Dante, Rafinha, Xherdan Shaqiri, Thomas Müller, Claudio Pizarro
Borussia Mönchengladbach's renaissance has reached a critical moment. They have risen to the top as previous top of the table competitors – Borussia Dortmund, FC Schalke 04, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, and VfL Wolfsburg – struggle with Bundesliga competition.
Sporting Director Max Eberl has assembled a side with depth and youth, the perfect concoction for the three-front battle his side currently faces. That gives Lucien Favre fresh legs for the quick Sunday turnaround against Bayern. Even with Ibrahima Traoré, Thorgan Hazard, and Branimir Hrgota playing at midweek, Favre can plug in André Hahn, Fabian Johnson, Patrick Hermann and Raffael without his side skipping a beat.
Favre has stuck with his meat-and-potatoes tactics this season, which has lead to 12 goals in the last three matches. Max Kruse has become a decisive, imposing Bundesliga player, thriving with a partner next to him. The continued issue is the midfield, one that Guardiola has unlocked on several occasions despite the above-average skill of Granit Xhaka and Håvard Nordveit.
Mönchengladbach has conceded just four goals this season, but young addition Yan Sommer will face a barrage of shots he has yet to see in the Bundesliga.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2):
Max Kruse – Raffael
André Hahn – Granit Xhaka – Håvard Nordveit – Fabian Johnson
Oscar Wendt – Tony Jantschke – Martin Stranzl – Julian Korb
Bench: Christian Heimroth, Álvaro Dominguez, Filip Daems, Ibrahima Traoré, Patrick Hermann, Thorgan Hazard, Branimir Hrgota
Despite the fact that these two teams are bonafide defensively relative to the Bundesliga, this match could break open in a big way. The counterattacking ability of Kruse and Raffael could expose a fluid back, and Bayern's world class forwards could cause Xhaka and Nordveit to run around like dogs chasing their tales. The meeting of these high powered sides will be a spectacle for the neutral, likely putting Bayern in an uncomfortable situation on the road.
Projected Score: Borussia Mönchengladbach (2-3) Bayern Munich
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