Bayern Munich will be hoping to retain their place at the top of the Bundesliga table when they face Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday.
Bayern Munich kick-started 2021 with a remarkable comeback win over 1.FSV Mainz that saw them overturn a two-goal deficit to score five goals in the second half. It was a performance reflective of their winning mentality and incredible spirit, and few very could challenge their current position at the top of the Bundesliga table.
However, despite such performances, the Bavarians are leading second-placed RB Leipzig by just two points while Borussia Dortmund are also creeping up following an underwhelming start to the campaign. It makes Bayern’s upcoming game against Borussia Monchengladbach all the more important.
The record German champions can not only retain their two-point lead over Leipzig but could also potentially increase their advantage as Die Roten Bullen face Borussia Dortmund this weekend. But, in Gladbach, Bayern Munich could be dealt with a compound challenge, especially at Borussia Park, where the hosts usually perform well.
The Foals made a decent start to the year themselves, with a slender 1-0 win over relegation candidates Arminia Bielefeld. It was a game of missed chances – something they surely cannot afford this time around as Marco Rose’s men look to salvage at least a point in this crucial fixture.
Here, at The Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides ahead of the Friday night encounter in the Bundesliga – a game that could further entice the title race this season.
Team News & Tactics
Marco Rose will really have to reassess his options heading into this encounter, especially in the offensive department where he is missing star player Marcus Thuram due to suspension. Breel Embolo has typically spearheaded the Gladbach attack in recent matches, but the Swiss international is highly notorious for missing clear-cut opportunities.
While we do still expect Embolo to start, Rose could be tempted to deploy Alassane Plea in the number nine role. The Frenchman has a good record of scoring in big matches, so he is the perfect candidate to start in this fixture. He should be assisted by the creative trifecta of Jonas Hofmann, Lars Stindl and Embolo while the likes of Hannes Wolf and Patrick Herrmann can provide further reinforcements.
In midfield, Rose could recall Florian Neuhaus into the starting lineup, most likely at the expense of Laszlo Benes. The young German could, thus, renew his central midfield partnership alongside Christoph Kramer, who could once again be preferred ahead of Denis Zakaria.
Meanwhile, at the back, Ramy Bensebaini made his return to the pitch by appearing as a late substitute against Arminia last weekend. However, it remains unlikely that Rose will entrust him with the job of facing Bayern Munich so we could once again expect Oscar Wendt at left-back.
The rest of the backline should remain unchanged as well, with Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi providing cover for Yann Sommer in goal while Stefan Lainer starts as a right-back.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sommer; Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt; Kramer, Neuhaus; Hofmann, Stindl, Embolo; Plea
Hansi Flick missed out on the services of Kingsley Coman in the last match due to a thigh muscle strain. However, the Frenchman has trained with the team ahead of this game and might even get the nod ahead of Serge Gnabry, who is a doubt after picking up a knock in the shin.
Coman could thus operate on the flanks alongside Leroy Sane, with Thomas Muller retaining his usual role in the number ten slot. They will look to provide the creative support for this season’s top scorer Robert Lewandowski.
Flick could make another change in central midfield by introducing Leon Goretzka back into the starting eleven. The German international made quite an impression after coming on as a substitute against Mainz, helping Bayern make an excellent comeback. He should, thus, renew his central midfield partnership with Joshua Kimmich.
Finally, in defence, Benjamin Pavard was finally given the nod at right-back ahead of Niklas Sule last time out. But, we expect Flick to revert that change after the Frenchman produced yet another disappointing performance.
Sule starting at right-back could guarantee a place for Jerome Boateng and David Alaba at the heart of the Bayern defence while Alphonso Davies may also retain his place in the side, ahead of Lucas Hernandez. They will be hoping to avoid conceding any early goal this time out.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Sule, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Sane, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
- Borussia Monchengladbach are one of only three teams to beat Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich, the others being Bayer Leverkusen (2-1) and Hoffenheim (4-1).
- In fact, the Foals have the best record against Bayern of any Bundesliga teams since 2014/15 (W5 D2 L5).
- Bayern Munich are on the longest unbeaten run of any Bundesliga team (12 matches).
- The defending champions have claimed a league-high 18 points from a losing position in 2020/21.
- Robert Lewandowski is averaging a goal every 57 minutes in the Bundesliga this term. He has ‘only’ scored four times in 14 meetings with Gladbach, however.
Player to Watch
Following an injury layoff, Joshua Kimmich marked his return to the starting lineup with a goal against Mainz last weekend. His overall contributions were also critical behind Bayern Munich’s remarkable turnaround in the second half. And Hansi Flick will be hoping for a similar performance from the German international, who is an indispensable figure to his setup.
In addition to his aggression, tenacity and skill, Kimmich also offers versatility to the table. And with Pavard struggling, it won’t be surprising to see Flick deploying the ex-Stuttgart prodigy in the right-back role against Gladbach, knowing his side might find it difficult to deal with the attacking threat of players like Breel Embolo and Jonas Hofmann.
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-1 Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich do not have a great record against Borussia Monchengladbach, who are managed by one of the best promising young coaches in Germany. The Foals fared well against Hansi Flick’s men last time out, and with very little injuries to worry about, it won’t be surprising to see them hold the Bavarians to a draw on Friday.