Bayern Munich made do without talismans Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller, securing a crucial 2-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach thanks to goals from Joshua Zirkzee (26’) and Leon Goretzka (86’). They could have clinched the Bundesliga title with the three points against Marco Rose’s side, but Borussia Dortmund beat Fortuna Dusseldorf 1-0 earlier in the match day. Bayern can, however, win the title midweek against Werder Bremen at the Weserstadion.
After the match, there were mixed reactions from both camps, reflecting on what was far from a strong performance by either team’s standards. Die Fohlen only registered a total of two shots on target from six total chances, but they were threatening on a handful of occasions and had to deal with losing front man Marcus Thuram to injury in the tenth minute.
Pavard redeems himself
Benjamin Pavard gave ‘Gladbach their lifeline just before halftime when he knocked the ball into the back of Manuel Neuer’s net, leveling the match at 1-1. He had to make an attempt at the clearance as Jonas Hoffman was waiting to get a foot on Patrick Hermann’s well placed cross. Hansi Flick praised his right back’s professionalism to continue pressing own despite making that mistake (TZ): “Benji is simply 100 percent professional. All the nicer that he assisted the goal today.”
Flick felt that missing Müller and Lewandowski that Missing Müller and was also a blessing in disguise for them to have time to rest and recuperate before another English week: “In the end, it’s a win. Three real big points. I’m not one to talk about players who are not here now. It’s obvious that Robert and Thomas always help us. Now they can recuperate for a few days and then it’s clear that they’ll be able to play against Bremen.”
Disappointment for Lucas Hernandez
The two substitutions Flick made midway through the second half really helped spark Bayern forward when he brought on Alphonso Davies and Kingsley Coman to replace Michael Cuisance and Lucas Hernandez.
It was a rare start for Hernandez at left back, and he looked disappointed when he was subbed off, but Flick explained it was a decision he had to make to change the game: “It’s simply the case that Alphonso helps us extremely with his dynamism. Lucas is doing a good job and I’m sure he was sad when he had to come off. Bringing on the two players was the decisive plus factor for us.”
Goretzka and Neuer acknowledge passive approach
Leon Goretzka was once again one of Bayern’s strongest performers. His goal in the 86th minute was well deserved and sealed the important three points. After the match, though, he admitted that his side was a little off today due to the change in tactics they were trying to deply: “Otherwise we actually play 90 minutes of pressing. Today we wanted to come more from a compact setup. Good that we won in the end. In physical terms, it was an extreme challenge today. Also because we made life difficult for ourselves in the second half.”
Neuer also felt that Bayern’s play was different against ‘Gladbach, similar to the way they played against Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal semi-final earlier in the week (FCBayern.com): ”It was similar after the DFB Cup semi-final. You’re even sometimes happier when it’s a bit tight and you win at the end of the day. We’ve taken another step towards the title. We’re good at sealing battling victories too. We played differently today, we didn’t dominate possession so much, we focused on our midfield press. We let them have the ball to a certain extent. That was our plan today.”
From the ‘Gladbach perspective, they may feel as if they deserved at least a point at the Allianz Arena. Marco Rose was left to rue his side’s missed chances early on in the match, and also in the lcosing stages after Goretzka’s goal: ”We conceded avoidable goals against us, but they were also the result of our bold play. We should have scored one or two more goals today. If you want to take something away from Munich, you have to make the most of your chances. It’s simply the Bayern way to believe in being able to achieve maximum success right up to the end. That’s what we want to achieve.”