Bayern Munich v Borussia Moenchengladbach, Bundesliga, December 4, 2009
Sharing a rivalry that stretches back almost half a century, Friday night in Germany sees the meeting between old foes Bayern Munich and Gladbach.
The story dates back to the 1965-66 season, when Monchengladbach grabbed their historical promotion to the Bundesliga alongside future powerhouse Bayern. Having reached the top flight together, the clubs then staged their own mini-war for supremacy in the early stages of the 1970s; Bayern striking first by being crowned Bundesliga championship in 1969 before Gladbach made history by being the first ever German club to win successive championships in the following two seasons.
Thereafter, the pendulum of success swung back in Munich’s favour as Bayern went on the claim the championship in the 1971â€“72, 1972â€“73 and 1973â€“74 seasons, as well as winning the European Cup three times in that decade with one of the all-time great teams including the likes of Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness, Paul Breitner and Gurd Muller.
A report (in English) on the Monchengladbach team of the 1970s can be seen here.
Fast-forwarding to the present, back-to-back wins against Maccabi Haifa in the Champions League and away at Hannover last weekend has done little to convince the masses that coach Louis van Gaal is the right main to lead the Bavarian giants. Languishing six points off the league leaders Bayer Levekusen and having scored just 22 goals in 14 league matches this term, the locals are restless and unsatisfied with their team’s performances this season.
More importantly, having failed last year under the experimental management style of Jurgen Klinsmann, Van Gaal was ushered into the club as the so-called sensible choice. The Dutchman was painted as a sure-thing to returning to the winning track after the 58-year-old lead AZ Alkmaar the Dutch championship. But less than four months later the plan is failing to bear fruit, and under criticism that Bayern’s quality of football is substandard combined with a sprinkling of poor results and disagreements with the team’s stars, Van Gaal’s head is dangerously resting on the chopping block.
On the field, striker Mario Gomez (19/5 to score first & Bayern win) is likely to make a rare Bundesliga home start against Gladbach as coach Van Gaal is expected to stick with a winning formation that has proved successful in their last two matches. Gomez, the league’s most expensive player who only weeks ago complained about his substitute role, has been brought in from the cold in recent weeks at Bayern, in stark contrast to the on-going row between Van Gaal and Luca Toni, that could see the Italian leave in the January transfer window.
Gomes will partner Croatian forward Ivica Olic (6/1 to score a brace) in the home attack, while Bayern’s offensive line-up could be further boosted by cameo appearances from Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben (5/1 to score last); Rib-Rob have recently resumed training after a period on the sidelines with respective injuries.
In defence, which has been one of Bayern’s more positive areas this season having only conceded 11 goals, Bayern should line-up with their consistent backline of Daniel Van Buyten (11/2 to score), Martin Demichelis, Philipp Lahm and 20-year-old full-back Holger Badstuber. (Bayern are 4/6 to keep a clean sheet.)
Gladbach, though, will be no pushovers for Bayern.
Over the course of the last five matches, Gladbach tops the Bundesliga form table with three victories and two draws, which including defeats of Hamburg away and Schalke at home – two achievements that eluded Bayern earlier in the season.
In goal, Gladbach have one of the most promising keeper’s in Europe with Belgian custodian Logan Bailly, while, such has been the way of things this season, that defender Roel Brouwers (22/1 to score & Gladbach win) is the top scorer at the club with three goals.
Glabach’s strength is found in their midfield where they can boast the talents of American box-to-box midfield Michael Bradley (20/1 to score first), 20-year German playmaker Marco Reus (6/1 to score) and seasoned Venezuelan schemer Juan Aragao (5/1 to score). Further forward, Israeli international striker Roberto Colautti (5/1 to score) will lead the line alongside Canadian forward Robert Friend, while match will likely be the last ever trip to the Allianz Arena for 37-year-old German striker Oliver Neuville who is poised to hang up his boots at the end of this season.
101predicts: Bayern Munich 2 – Borussia Moenchengladbach 1 (13/2)
Full match odds here.