Bayern Munich brought their winless run to an end in the Champions League against PSV Eindhoven. Their attitude adjustment was perfect for the occasion, but they face a much sterner test this weekend.
Borussia Mönchengladbach is the only team who has consistently been able to take points from Bayern in recent years. The Foals are unbeaten in their last two trips to the Allianz Arena, shocking Bayern 2-0 in 2015 before delaying Bayern’s league title celebrations last week.
Gladbach had a rebound performance of their own in midweek. They beat Celtic 2-0 after failing to score against Schalke and Hamburg in their last two Bundesliga games. Their victory did not solve the big problems in their squad, namely the injuries to several of their key players.
Bayern’s squad is experiencing the exact opposite. The only regular they will be missing is Franck Ribery, who will return to training next week. Carlo Ancelotti has more directions with his squad selections than he has ever had in his young stint at Bayern.
But the last time the Italian coach made too many changes, Bayern struggled to break down an in-form Cologne team. Thus far this season, he has seemed determine to give everyone in the squad a chance to play, and it has occasionally worked to Bayern’s detriment. What he has accomplished is getting previously injured players back into form, something he may be looking to do against Gladbach as well.
He will be standing across from a pretty good tactician in Andre Schubert. The Gladbach coach, who took over for Lucien Favre at the beginning of last season, has shaped the team in his image. His counter-attacking methods undid Bayern last season, but some of his tactical choices have not panned out this season.
Gladbach has not replicated the high-octane attack from last season. That may be because their two best attackers, Raffael and Thorgan Hazard, have struggled with fitness this season. But Gladbach have struggled even more defensively, allowing five goals in their last two games.
Bayern will appreciate their defensive struggles, especially since Arjen Robben appears to be in vintage form. Ancelotti confirmed the Dutchman will start again on Saturday, his fourth consecutive start. Thomas Müller and Robert Lewandowski also seem to be back to their scoring ways, both getting on the score sheet in midweek.
With the Bundesliga tightening up – four points separate sixth place from first place – a victory for Bayern will reaffirm their place at the top of the table.
Prediction: 3-1 Bayern win. Bayern may struggle to disassemble a defensive core that includes Christoph Kramer and Tobias Strobl in midfield. But Gladbach are still an active pressing team, something that may work in Bayern’s favor. If Bayern are able to command the midfield like they did against PSV, their struggles at home against the Foals may quickly become history.
Bayern Munich injuries and suspensions: Franck Ribery (muscle tear), Tom Starke (suspension)
Borussia Mönchengladbach injuries and suspensions: Andreas Christensen (glut), Alvaro Dominguez (back), Mamadou Doucoure, Josip Drmic (knee), Thorgan Hazard (knee), Raffael (quad), Marvin Schulz (hip)
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