Bayern Munich will host Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday, in what promises to be a fascinating contest between two of the top dogs in German football.
Bayern Munich will brace themselves for yet another daunting challenge as they host Borussia Moenchengladbach at the Allianz Arena on Saturday. This game will be of paramount importance for the Bavarians, whose performances in their last three matches in all competitions have been well below par.
While a defeat to Hertha Berlin seemed like a minor blip in their excellent early-season form, a stale 1-1 draw with Ajax in the Champions League will serve as a major humiliation for Bayern. As a result, coach Niko Kovac will be desperate for a positive result this weekend before heading into the international break, failing which could spell further trouble for the Croatian mastermind.
Gladbach, on the other hand, have had a very mixed start to their league campaign this season. Although they are sitting pretty at fourth in the league standings, they have stuttered, at times, notably slumping to a 4-2 defeat against Hertha Berlin or blowing away their lead against Wolfsburg last weekend.
Therefore, Gladbach, to some extent, could appear very unpredictable, which more or less underlines Dieter Hecking’s tenure as the Foals boss.
And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of their so-called topspiel this Saturday.
Team news & tactics
Coach Niko Kovac will be facing a host of issues ahead of this fascinating encounter and understandably so. Key defender Mats Hummels is doubtful after taking a few knocks against Ajax. Thus, Niklas Sule will return to central defence alongside Jerome Boateng, who has been a subject of criticism from Bayern fans, following his underwhelming performances this season.
James Rodriguez and Thomas Muller became topics of conversation following Bayern’s midweek mishap against Ajax. The latter of the two even had a deep conversation with Kovac during Thursday’s training session.
However, both the players could start against Gladbach this weekend, which will see Javi Martinez relegated to the bench. As a result, Thiago Alcantara will drop deeper and operate as the deep-lying playmaker in Bayern’s 4-1-4-1.
Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba are automatic inclusions in the starting eleven but we may see one change on the offensive front. Serge Gnabry, in particular, is widely expected to be given the nod over Franck Ribery as the right winger, after being surprisingly overlooked in the game against Ajax and Hertha.
Arjen Robben will retain his place on the opposite flank with Robert Lewandowski leading the line. The Polish international hasn’t fired in all cylinders this season, having scored only three goals in five matches. But, he will be keen on turning things around against Gladbach this weekend though he doesn’t share a good record against the Foals, having scored only twice in 11 matches in all competitions.
Probable lineup(4-1-4-1): Neuer; Kimmich, Boateng, Suele, Alaba; Alcantara; Robben, Mueller, Rodriguez, Gnabry; Lewandowski.
Unlike Bayern, Gladbach coach Dieter Hecking is unlikely to make any changes to the side that drew with Wolfsburg last weekend.
Michael Lang will be given the nod ahead of Louis Beyer as the right back while experienced defender Oscar Wendt will be deployed on the opposite flank. Matthias Ginter, on the other hand, will spearhead Gladbach’s defence, partnering Swiss international Nico Elvedi at the heart of Foals’ four-man backline.
Ginter has been pretty solid this campaign, averaging more clearances than anyone else in the team whilst proving to be a crucial component in his team’s build-up from the back. However, we could expect Hecking to make some changes in the second half, preferably introducing another defender in the shape of Tony Jantschke.
Christoph Kramer will be preferred ahead of Tobias Strobl as the lone defensive midfielder while the midfield duo of Denis Zakaria and Jonas Hofmann will be deployed a little further forward. The young Mickael Cuisance and Florian Neuhaus will provide Gladbach with extra options in midfield.
And finally, in attack, Alassane Plea will look to continue his excellent scoring form, having plundered four goals in six matches since joining the club this summer. He will be partnered by the effective wide-duo of Thorgan Hazard and Patrick Herrmann, whose return to full fitness has been a boon for the Rheinland giants this season.
Probable lineup(4-3-3): Sommer; Lang, Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt; Kramer, Hofmann, Zakaria; Herrmann, Plea, Hazard.
- If Bayern fail to win against Gladbach, they will be suffering their greatest drought since May 2015, when then coach Pep Guardiola’s side slumped to three consecutive defeats against Bayer Leverkusen, FC Augsburg and SC Freiburg.
- Despite their excellent record at home, Gladbach have faltered on away turf this season, failing to secure a single win in any of their three matches so far(P3 D2 L1).
- Gladbach’s Alassane Plea has been the most prolific newcomer in the Bundesliga this season, notching up four goals in six matches.
- Bayern have lost only once in their last 37 home matches in the Bundesliga, making them firm favourites to seal all three points in this encounter.
- Gladbach have been lethal in attack this season, scoring 12 goals, nine of which have come in their last four matches.
Player to watch
After being overlooked in the disappointing draw with Ajax in midweek, Serge Gnabry is almost guaranteed to start against Gladbach this weekend. The former Arsenal prodigy has looked extremely sharp so far this season. His extraordinary pace coupled with his incredible tenacity is something that the duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery have lacked in recent months.
Furthermore, he also has an eye for goal, making him an upgrade to Kingsley Coman, who lacks the shooting technique. Therefore, stopping him will be imperative for the Gladbach defence as they aim to cause a huge upset this weekend.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Despite their awful form going into this game, Bayern’s strength in quality will likely guide them to a victory over Gladbach, who are winless on away turf this season. However, given the visitors’ excellent attack, they might give the Bavarians a serious run for their money.