Though they have been the most dominant team in Germany in recent seasons, Bayern Munich have a few opponents that can keep their dominance in check. Whenever they rise too high, these opponents thrust them back down to earth, sometimes in a momentum-killing fashion that hinders their season progression.
Borussia Mönchengladbach is certainly one of those clubs, and the departure of their stars has not changed that much. Earlier this season, Gladbach looked like a fantastic opponent for many clubs, but they are a much more potent team under André Schubert. Under the new manager's tenure, Gladbach has only suffered a few hiccups, and have come away with something even if their performances are not of the best quality.
Perhaps without the width that has made Bayern so dominant this season, Pep Guardiola will have to find a different tactical masterplan to pick apart Schubert's Gladbach. The Foals held Bayern to appoint the last time the Bavarians came into their house, and that outcome is easily repeatable for Germany's resurgent team.
The Match (102nd Meeting)
Location: Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany
Head: Felix Zwayer
FC Bayern: 16 W, 2 D, 2 L – 25 YC, 0 Y/R, 2 RC
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
Television and Streaming:
US: Fox Sports 1 | HD, Fox Sports GO, Fox Soccer 2Go
Canada: Sportsnet One, Sportsnet World Now
Germany: Sky Bundesliga 3 | HD, Sky Go, TeleClub Sport Live
FC Bayern: WWWWW
Bundesliga: 45 W, 28 D, 21 L
DFB Pokal: 6 W, 0 D, 1 L
Largest Victory: 7-1 (Bundesliga: March 24, 1979, Mönchengladbach)
Largest Defeat: 0-5 (Bundesliga: May 18, 1974 Mönchengladbach)
Bayern have thrived this season with an embarrassment of attacking talent, able to widen the play and create channels for Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Müller to score in the penalty area. Wide service has come back in a strong way, and the Rekordmeister are creating chances by the barrel full.
Bayern are limping towards the halfway point, Guardiola unable to call upon two left-footed wizards in Douglas Costa and Arjen Robben as well as masterful playmaker Thiago Alcantara. This doesn't come at great time either, for Bayern have their last Champions League match after this Spitzenspiel against Gladbach. Service and creativity are going to have to come in a different way for the system to work, but it may be more likely Guardiola changes the system entirely.
What Guardiola does have at his disposal is a strong central defensive presence, as well as players who are can do something constructive with a long ball. This may call for Bayern to play more direct, buildups happening more quickly and players like Lewandowski, Müller and Javi Martínez using their hold-up ability to establish a presence in the final third. A goal may have to come from long range though, which will require Arturo Vidal and Xabi Alonso to be on point in their sharp shooting.
The Bayern we all see on Saturday afternoon may not be one we have seen before, and Guardiola will have to find a way to use the quality he has to find a result.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Kingsley Coman – Robert Lewandowski – Thomas Müller
Arturo Vidal – Javi Martínez – Xabi Alonso
Rafinha – Medhi Benatia – Jerome Boateng – Philipp Lahm
Bench: Tom Starke, Sven Ulreich, Holger Badstuber, Jan Kirchhoff, Joshua Kimmich, Sebastian Rode
Out/Suspended: David Alaba (ankle), Juan Bernat (groin), Douglas Costa (muscle issues), Mario Götze (groin), Franck Ribery (ankle), Arjen Robben (calf), Thiago Alcântara (knee)
Without a doubt, Borussia Mönchengladbach is one of the most fascinating narratives to follow in the Bundesliga. Five straight defeats saw longtime manager Lucien Favre resign, and his replacement, André Schubert, has barely dropped a point in his stead. The identity of this team is still in flux despite the personnel not changing all that much.
Well, having Lars Stindl in attack instead of central midfield certainly helps. Schubert has unmasked the latent potential he was hiding at Hannover, and has looked a better partner to Raffael than Max Kruse was. Josip Drmić, who was supposed to be Kruse's replacement, has been relegated to the bench as a result, though Schubert may have found a spot for him now that Ibrahima Traoré is injured. There is also Fabian Johnson, a winger that has to play left back for the United States, but has flourished in recent wings as Gladbach's wide attacking threat.
The vulnerable part of the team is the defense, a department put up strong results with the veteran guide of Martin Stranzl. With the Austrian defender injured, Favre and now Schubert has had to rely on a very young core defense, including Andreas Christiansen (on loan from Chelsea) and Mahmoud Dahoud. That has caused the defense to be more inconsistent, something one would expect from teenage players. Yann Sommer has paraded away several shots though, and a bow of their defensive tree has broken at inopportune times.
Gladbach have transformed into a scrappy team that one cannot ever bet against, and it will be hard for the defending Bundesliga champions to pry points away from them.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2):
Raffael – Lars Stindl
Fabian Johnson – Granit Xhaka – Mahmoud Dahoud – Josip Drmić
Oscar Wendt – Håvard Nordtveit – Andreas Christiansen – Julian Korb
Bench: Christoph Heimeroth, Roel Brouwers, Nico Elvedi, Marvin Schulz, Thorgan Hazard, Pascal Ritter, Branmir Hrgota
Out/Suspended: Alvaro Dominguez (back), Andre Hahn (shin), Patrick Hermann (knee), Nico Schulz (knee), Martin Stranzl, Ibrahima Traoré
This is one of the Bundesliga matches of the week, but the injuries both teams are dealing with takes away from the showcase this could be. Nonetheless, Gladbach will come to play, and the individual skill they rely on in the buildup play will be enough to create the chances they need. The curious thing to watch will be if Bayern choose to absorb more pressure without a level of creativity in midfield, but Xabi Alonso and Arturo Vidal will still be able to command the play in midfield. This match will definitely have goals unlike Bayern's last trip to Borussia Park, but whether they can provide enough to win is a legitimate question.
Projected Score: Borussia Mönchengladbach (2-2) Bayern Munich
The Other Action
FC Schalke 04 vs. Hannover 96 (Friday, 2:30 PM ET)
Hamburger SV vs. 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
1. FC Köln vs. FC Augsburg (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
Hertha Berliner SC vs. Bayer 04 Leverkusen (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
FC Ingolstadt 04 vs. TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Saturday, 9:30 AM ET)
VfL Wolfsburg vs. Borussia Dortmund (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)
VfB Stuttgart vs. SV Werder Bremen (Sunday, 9:30 AM ET)
UEFA Champions League Opponent
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Hajduk Split (Saturday, 9:00 AM ET)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. SV Darmstadt 98 (Sunday, 11:30 AM ET)
|Hertha Berliner SC||7||2||5||18||17||+1||23|
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||6||3||5||18||18||0||21|
|FC Schalke 04||6||3||5||18||20||-2||21|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||6||2||6||20||20||0||20|
|1. FC Köln||5||5||4||15||18||-3||20|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||5||4||5||10||14||-4||19|
|SV Darmstadt 98||3||6||5||14||19||-5||15|
|SV Werder Bremen||4||1||9||14||28||-14||13|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||1||6||7||15||23||-8||9|