Borrusia Monchengladbach v Bayern Munich | Sat 5 December | Borussia-Park | 16:30
Borrusia Monchengladbach will face their toughest test yet, as they host runaway leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday afternoon. Bayern are looking to claim a fourth consecutive Bundesliga title while Monchengladbach will be looking to maintain their unbeaten league record under manager Andre Schubert.
To Win Match
Bayern Munich 3/10
Monchengladbach will be looking to return to winning ways after coming from two goals down to draw 3-3 at Hoffenheim. That draw extends their unbeaten streak in the league under Schubert to nine matches, including seven victories.
On the back of an excellent 2014-15 season, Monchengladbach were widely tipped to build on their success under former manager Lucien Favre. However, much to the surprise of Gladbach’s faithful and admirers, they got off to a dismal start leading to the resignation of Favre. After winning his first three games as Gladbach boss; Andre Schubert said, “Football’s a simple game.” Well, the 44-year-old is certainly making it look that way.
After taking the helm at Gladbach in a time of turmoil, Schubert has turned the tide, and a Gladbach side that had looked disconsolate at the start of the season are back to their ebullient best. Schubert has steered the club from the bottom of the Bundesliga to fourth place, breathing new life into his team.
Nobody epitomizes the uplift in Gladbach’s form more than Raffael. At the start of the campaign the Brazilian looked lackadaisical and absent of the talent that had yielded 27 goals and nine assists in the previous two Bundesliga campaigns. Schubert’s appointment has jolted Raffael into life and he has now accrued six goals in the league.
The acquisition of Josip Drmic from Bayer Leverkusen was seen as a real coup but with his showings proving to be as lacklustre with Gladbach as they were at the BayArena, it is Lars Stindl who has established himself as Raffael’s strike partner. He is certainly more of an attacking midfielder, of that there is little doubt, but in a 4-4-2 system where tireless work rate is of great importance, he fits the bill perfectly.
Few can boast to match Gladbach’s quality in wide areas with neither Andre Hahn nor Patrick Herrmann featuring regularly this season due to injury; Fabian Johnson and Julian Korb have been filling in on the flanks. Johnson chipped in with a brace last time out, showing off his attacking prowess with his hard running down the line.
German-Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud has been a revelation this term and alongside newly-appointed captain Granit Xhaka, who is bound for stardom, The Foals have a formidable midfield tandem.
Bayern Munich opened up an 11-point lead at the Bundesliga summit on Saturday as first-half goals from Thomas Muller and youngster Kingsley Coman led Pep Guardiola's side to a 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin. The win gives Bayern their fifth consecutive win across all competitions and edges the undefeated title-defenders one step closer to a fourth successive league crown.
Bayern's irrepressible form this season has resulted in some suggesting the 2015-16 title has already been decided, with Guardiola's side on course to break their own record for quickest Bundesliga title win. In 2015-16, the game plan is less about maintaining the ball for a long period of time and more about precisely and deliberately moving it into position to score.
Possession with a purpose, as Guardiola was seeking as early as his first season at Bayern, but has only been able to truly deliver in the current campaign. Perhaps as part of an overall more pragmatic approach to the game, and keeping in line with the theme of passing with intent to score rather than simply maintain possession, Guardiola’s Bayern have taken to playing more long balls.
It has allowed Bayern to play to their strength, with wingers supported by attacking full-backs. When Guardiola joined Bayern, he inherited a treble-winning side and perhaps felt too much pressure to do something special. With Douglas Costa proving to be an assist machine from wide and Robert Lewandowski equally a goal machine in the centre, it seems quite clear that this year’s Bayern is much more like that of Jupp Heynckes than that of Guardiola’s first and second years at the helm.
Muller is proving to be The Bavarians most consistent player. Bayern have won 47 Bundesliga outings in a row (and are unbeaten in 67 in total) when Muller finds the back of the net. His 13th league goal equaled his highest career tally, which he has managed four times. You'd have to fancy Muller to improve on that record in the remaining 20 league games. There’s every reason to believe that, three years after their historic 2012-13 campaign, Bayern could be treble winners once again.
Verdict: Bayern + Both Teams To Score at 29/20.
Guardiola’s men have only lost one game this season, away to Arsenal in the Champions League and have been at their destructive best, annihilating teams at will. Gladbach are unbeaten against Bayern in the last three meetings, drawing twice and winning the last meeting 2-0 at Allianz Arena. The Foals should give The Bavarians a run for their money, and might even get a goal, but ultimately there can only be one winner. Take Bayern to come away with maximum points + Both Teams To Score at 29/20.
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