When Bayern Munich drew 0-0 against Borussia Mönchengladbach in October it was the first match where an opposition side out executed Bayern Munich and prevented the Bavarians from employing their gameplan. As with all things Gladbach, it was a strategy built around solid positioning, patience and hitting on the counter. In that match it was the central partnership of Cristoph Kramer and Granit Xhaka who took apart Bayern Munich's midfield game, with the former enjoying a truly breakout performance.
Borussia Mönchengladbach is Bayern Munich's boogeyman under Pep Guardiola. Their defensive game is built around spatial containment, not a physical approach like so many Bundesliga sides. Their biggest strength is mitigating the very thing that Bayern Munich attacks in other sides with their focus on zone overloads and through balls. If Bayern Munich were going to respond to the strength of Gladbach in Sunday's clash they were going to be need to change up from their default strategy just like in the match at Borussia Park.
In that vein, Bayern Munich went aerial attack heavy. It was very similar match to the clash in October match but on Sunday Bayern moved in with a diversified approach. On the night they attempted 26 crosses from both flanks while simultaneously approaching the box from all directions, attempting 105 chipped passes from all sides. In their first meeting Bayern Munich also played well, yet used a cross heavy attack rather then a diversified aerial plan. Like that match though they were unable to find a way through the Gladbach defense.
While they generated 16 shots, half of which were in the box, yet again it was a dominant performance from Kramer and Xhaka that saw them cut off the center of the pitch while Martin Stranzl and Alvaro Dominguez cleared most of the Bayern Munich aerial attack. The Gladbach centerbacks and Tony Jantscke on the right accounted for 26 clearances all game, similar to the 21 that Stranzl and Dominguez accounted for in the October meeting. Add on top of that the performance from the rock solid Yann Sommer and you have the tools to resist Bayern Munich for 90 minutes once again.
On the reverse side, it was once again Bayern Munich's weakness on the counter that undid them. In the October meeting, it was Manuel Neuer who stood on his head to deny some of 'Gladbach's best chances, but here it was Neuer's turn to flub two saves we've seen him make countless times before.
There's not much to be ashamed about from this game for Bayern Munich. While Pep Guardiola is in charge and Bayern Munich's attacking tactics are designed around possession and sustained pressure, this is always going to be their most difficult matchup of the season. Lucien Favre's too good of a coach for it not to happen and he has an excellent side built around tactics that happen to mitigate Bayern Munich's best abilities. In a way sometimes these games happen.