Borussia Monchengladbach travel to Bavaria to take on leaders Bayern Munich as the Bundesliga heads into its last four fixtures for the season.
Bayern Munich will look to edge closer to winning the Bundesliga as they welcome Borussia Monchengladbach to the Allianz Arena on Matchday 31.
The Munich outfit, led by Hansi Flick, has been pretty much unstoppable since December and will be able to put an end to the Bundesliga title race if Borussia Dortmund drop points against Fortuna Dusseldorf earlier in the day. Their last defeat came against none other than Borussia Monchengladbach, after which they have gone on a 21-game unbeaten run.
The race for Die Meisterschale had gone on to become rather chaotic, but Bayern pretty much wrapped it up against Dortmund in Der Klassiker, registering a 1-0 win. After a roller-coaster of a season, we have reached a very predictable end.
Gladbach, however, are very much alive in the exciting competition for a Champions League spot, with seven points separating Der BVB in second and them in fourth. But, they are on the same number of points as Bayer Leverkusen who stand 5th and could be in with a chance to gain some advantage over Die Fohlen.
The champions-elect traveled to Leverkusen last week and dismantled Die Werkself at their own home, putting four past Lukas Hradecky and conceding twice, once very early in the game and the other very late. Gladbach, on the other hand, are coming off a very disappointing display from last week after tasting defeat at the hands of Freiburg.
This should have been their moment to draw level on points with RB Leipzig, who are third at the moment with 59 points. Marco Rose’s men will be looking to use this game to record a double over Bayern, who might be tired after their midweek clash against Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal.
Team News & Tactics
Hansi Flick will be faced with the challenge of replacing a lot of missing players for this important fixture. For example, Serge Gnabry bruised his back in the build-up to the midweek cup game and might not feature against Borussia Monchengladbach either.
The Bayern Munich boss will also miss Corentin Tolisso (ankle), Philippe Coutinho (ankle) and Niklas Sule (lack of match fitness). It is highly unlikely any of these three feature again for the Munich outfit this season in the league. However, none of these pose the biggest concern.
Bayern will be without the services of the league’s top scorer, Robert Lewandowski and the top assist provider in the Bundesliga, Thomas Muller. Both of them picked up their fifth yellow cards of the season last time out and are suspended because of the same. The duo are statistically the best in the league, with Muller assisting Lewandowski 8 times so far in the competition.
Flick is left with 19-year-old Joshua Zirkee for the centre-forward role, and we have to assume the teenager will lead the attack in the absence of Gnabry, Muller and Lewandowski – each of whom can and have played as a striker for Bayern this season.
The teenager will be complemented by Ivan Perisic to his left and Kingsley Coman to his right. The former scored a fantastic diving header against Eintracht Frankfurt in the midweek.
The in-form Leon Goretzka will assume responsibility as the number 10 in the absence of the Raumdeuter. Goretzka was the best player on the pitch last week at the BayArena, scoring and assisting once each.
Thiago Alcantara is expected to get his first start since Matchday 26 after picking up a groin injury in training. Flick’s trusted lieutenant, Joshua Kimmich will form the double pivot alongside the Spaniard. Kimmich has been in unstoppable form since his transition from right-back, making him inarguably the best central midfielder in the league.
This double pivot will guard the back four of Benjamin Pavard, Jerome Boateng, David Alaba and Alphonso Davies. Boateng was far from his best against Frankfurt and Leverkusen and could be dropped for Lucas Hernandez – Bayern’s costliest signing ever. The Frenchman started his first game since February in the 5-0 thrashing of Fortuna Dusseldorf. Club captain Manuel Neuer will guard the posts yet again.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Thiago; Perisic, Goretzka, Coman; Zirkee
Marco Rose has no fresh injury concerns for this game, but Alassane Plea’s suspension could prove to be a huge shortcoming. The Frenchman picked up his second red card of the season as he was booked twice for persistent fouling.
Tobias Strobl and Denis Zakaria are among the other notable absentees for this game due to hamstring and knee injuries, respectively. The latter is expected to be out for the rest of the season despite making progress in training.
Borussia Monchengladbach are, however, boosted by the return of Breel Embolo and Raffael, both of whom returned to team training this week. The former is expected to lead the line alongside Marcus Thuram in a twin striker setup.
Lars Stindl will play as the number 10 behind the strikers. This gives them a very fluid front three since all the aforementioned forwards can play anywhere across the frontline and will constantly swap positions.
Oscar Wendt and Stefan Lainer will provide the width as wing-backs as part of a four-man midfield, with Florian Neuhaus and Christoph Kramer occupying the central roles. Jonas Hofmann is an option for that role if Rose wants to go in with a more offensive unit.
The three-man backline could consist of Ramy Bensebaini on the left, Nico Elvedi on the right and Matthias Ginter as the sweeper. While primarily a left-back, Bensebaini can and has played as a centre half as recently as the last matchday while trailing against Freiburg.
The brilliant Yann Sommer will hold the fort for Gladbach in the six-yard-box. The Swiss international has conceded just 36 goals, the fourth-least in the league, most of which have come since the restart. Sommer has kept out a league-high 76.8 per cent of all shots on his goal this season, making more saves (119) than anyone else.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Sommer; Elvedi, Ginter, Bensebaini; Lainer, Kramer, Neuhaus, Wendt; Stindl; Embolo, Thuram
- In Robert Lewandowski (30 goals, three assists) and Thomas Muller (seven goals, 20 assists), Bayern Munich will be without the two players responsible for 66 per cent of their Bundesliga goals this season.
- Hansi Flick has won 23 of his first 26 competitive games as Bayern coach, two more than Pep Guardiola won across the same period at the club.
- Bayern Munich have scored 90 goals from 30 games this term, more than any other team at the same stage in the league’s history.
- Borussia Monchengladbach have prevailed in three of their last five meetings with Bayern Munich. Ramy Bensebaini – with his only Bundesliga brace – sealed a 2-1 win for the Foals with a stoppage-time penalty in the reverse fixture.
- Lars Stindl has been directly involved in a goal in five of his seven games against Bayern Munich with Gladbach (three goals, two assists). He was won four, drawn one and lost just two of those games.
Player to Watch
Leon Goretzka has looked like a completely different player since the two-month football hiatus came to an end, visibly improving his physique among other attributes. This has helped him play much deeper than he is used to, acting as a ball-winner while simultaneously pushing up the pitch to look for scoring chances.
In little time, Leon Goretzka (25) has become a key piece of the Bayern puzzle. Since the break he's gained muscle mass and found a level of consistency that he'd never had at the club.
So industrious and powerful, but technical too. Was class today, beyond just the goal. pic.twitter.com/Xkro47sNdj
— World Football Scout (@_FootballScouts) June 6, 2020
The German put in a tremendous shift against Bayer Leverkusen last week, worthy of his man of the match award, taking his tally to five goals and five assists for the season. If his form is anything to go by, Gladbach will need to be extra careful of him, especially if he starts in an advanced role.
Bayern Munich 2-2 Borussia Monchengladbach
Marco Rose & co. will be motivated to get back to winning ways and complete an unheard-of double over Bayern Munich. Their chances of winning have also improved significantly with the absence of Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski, three very key pieces in Hansi Flick’s setup.
That said, this Bayern team have looked nothing short of world-class since the turn of the year, and are yet to deliver a single underwhelming performance. They may lack three of their best forwards, but they still boast of a top-notch midfield unit in the form of Thiago Alcantara, Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka.
Gladbach will have to win the midfield battle if they want to stand any chance of beating the defending champions. In the end, it could end with a draw and The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-2 stalemate between Bayern Munich and Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.