Despite the divergent paths taken over the years, the clash between Bayern Munich and Borussia Mönchengladbach still possesses a special appeal due to the fierce rivalry established in the 1970’s when they were the two heavyweights of German football. To many people the fixture remains Germany’s real Klassiker. The Foals remain a sort of bogey team for the Rekordmeister with four wins and two draws from their last ten league encounters so there will be a fair amount of respect shown this weekend.
Bayern managed to recover from their shock home defeat to Werder Bremen last weekend with a 3-2 victory away at Bavarian rivals Augsburg. They were made to work by the Fuggerstädter and had the game gone on for another ten minutes, you would have backed the hosts to bag an equaliser.
The precious three points however saw Thomas Tuchel’s side close the gap on Bayer Leverkusen at the top of the table to just two points and they are now breathing down the neck of the Werkself and applying the pressure ahead of their crunch clash next weekend.
The Bayern coach does have a depleted squad with Kingsley Coman becoming the latest to suffer injury last week at the WWK Arena. The club signed Sacha Boey in the transfer window and then moved swiftly to arrange the earlier arrival of winger Bryan Zaragoza from Spanish side Granada to compensate for Coman’s absence.
Gladbach for their part are struggling for consistency this season and are in the bottom half of the table. They showed great defensive spirit to hold Bayer Leverkusen to a goalless draw at the Bay Arena last weekend- the task now is to have another say in the title race by getting a result at the Allianz Arena.
The loss of so many key players (Marcus Thuram, Lars Stindl, Jonas Hofmann, Ramy Bensebaini) was always going to have an impact, but the rise to the forefront of homegrown youngster Rocco Reitz has been a big plus for new coach Gerardo Seoane. The 21-year-old has just signed a contract extension in the past few days until 2028, which is a huge boost for the club.
A positive display against Bayern would give the Foals a big boost in terms of their league standing, but also set them up nicely for their midweek Pokal quarter-final clash with 3.Liga side FC Saarbrücken.
Thomas Tuchel still has a major injury crisis to deal with as well as missing Kim-Min Jae on international duty. Joshua Kimmich, Konrad Laimer, Dayot Upamecano, Serge Gnabry and now Kingsley Coman are all on the treatment table, but Noussair Mazraoui has returned from the African Cup of Nations.
Sacha Boey is expected to make his debut at right back with Eric Dier and Matthijs de Ligt in the centre of defence. Raphael Guerreiro could fill in for Coman wide on the left, or Tuchel could opt for Mathys Tel or Thomas Müller. Bryan Zaragoza may be an option for the bench after arriving on Thursday. Aleksandar Pavlovic should keep his place in midfield alongside Leon Goretzka.
Tuchel himself has been ill this week and didn’t attend training for a day and also missed the press conference on Friday, but it is believed he will be back with the squad for matchday.
Possible line-up: Neuer – Boey, Dier, de Ligt, Davies – Pavlovic – Goretzka, Guerreiro – L. Sané, Musiala – Kane
Jonas Omlin, Tomáš Čvančara and Ko Itakura are unavailable through injury, while Max Wöber is still in recovery training after an infection. Florian Neuhaus will probably have to settle for a place on the bench with Rocco Reitz and Koné forming the central pairing. Robin Hack is an option in the forward line should Alassane Plea miss out.
Possible line-up: Nicolas – Scally, Friedrich, Elvedi – Weigl – Honorat, Koné, Reitz, Netz – Plea – Jordan
What they’re saying:
Christoph Freund (sporting director): “Thomas will come down to Säbener Straße today and take training. He’s getting better. We’re positive he can be at the game tomorrow.
“We’re expecting Gladbach to play in a similar way as they did last week in Leverkusen. It definitely won’t be an easy game. Gladbach have a lot of quality, are good in transition. They played very well last Saturday in Leverkusen. It’ll be a big challenge, but we want to win.
“We’re pleased we have more options and a larger squad. That’s important for the coming weeks. We hope that Noussair Mazraoui comes back well and can train today. Also when Minjae Kim comes back, we’ll have good competition for places, which we want in order to keep the quality high. We want to be successful as a whole club. I’m very pleased we’ve got more options than in recent weeks.”
Gerardo Seoane: “When you play against the top teams, you need to play really well across the board. The other team also has to have an off day. From time to time against Leverkusen, we wanted to press higher up the pitch and go on the attack, but we didn’t manage to do that. Sitting back worked well, however.
“We’ll have to be quicker on the counter and use space better than we did last weekend against Bayern. We’re planning on preparing as much as we can for the opposition and playing as well as we can in all departments.
“Bayern might not have as much quality out wide as they usually do because of injuries. That being said, the players who are going to be on the pitch at the weekend are all good enough and they’ll be aiming to win the title and play in the Champions League. We’re not quite on their level, so we’ll need to be on our A game if we want to get anything from the match.”
27/01/24 Augsburg (a) 2-3 W (Bundesliga)
24/01/24 Union Berlin (h) 1-0 W (Bundesliga)
21/01/24 Werder Bremen (h) 0-1 L (Bundesliga)
12/01/24 Hoffenheim (h) 3-0 W (Bundesliga)
20/12/23 VfL Wolfsburg (a) 1-2 W (Bundesliga)
27/01/24 Bayer Leverkusen (a) 0-0 D (Bundesliga)
21/01/24 Augsburg (h) 1-2 L (Bundesliga)
14/01/24 VfB Stuttgart (h) 3-1 W (Bundesliga)
20/12/23 Eintracht Frankfurt (a) 2-1 L (Bundesliga)
15/12/23 Werder Bremen (h) 2-2 D (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture at the Allianz Arena last season took place on matchday four and ended in a 1-1 draw. Bayern dominated the game, but came up against Yann Sommer, who looked unbeatable in the Gladbach goal. He pulled off a record-breaking 19 saves against the Rekordmeister.
Marcus Thuram put the visitors in front just before half-time and another famous win looked on the cards thanks to Sommer’s heroics, only for Leroy Sané to finally make the breakthrough and equalise seven minutes from the end.
Players to watch:
It is expected that new €30 million right back Sacha Boey will make his debut for the club after arriving from Galatasaray. He will want to hit the ground running and show that the hefty outlay was worth it. The fact that Noussair Mazraoui is back from the African Cup of nations means that there is now fierce competition for the right back slot and it could be a case of you play as long as you perform.
After signing a new contract extension, which will keep him at the club until 2028, this weekend would be the ideal opportunity for 21-year-old Rocco Reitz to confirm his rising talent and help spur the Foals onto another result against champions Bayern. He’s already got four goals and two assists this season and more scorer points at the Allianz Arena would be the perfect end to a good week.