Created on 26-10-2014 at 19:19 PM
The meeting between the Bundesliga’s top two ended in a goalless stalemate on Sunday evening after an intense and hard-fought encounter between Bayern and second-placed Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Lower Rhine. Pep Guardiola’s side had the better of the play but came up against stiff opposition from their high-flying opponents and were ultimately denied all three points.
The raucous 54,010 full house at Borussia Park saw Bayern dominate the first half but fail to translate their superiority into goals when David Alaba’s tenth-minute shot came back off the upright. Lucien Favre’s Gladbach fought back strongly after the break but found Manuel Neuer in superb form as the Germany keeper made three outstanding saves to help his side to a valuable away point.
The result means FCB have 21 points from nine games and remain four ahead of Sunday’s opponents, with Wolfsburg and Hoffenheim also level with Borussia on 17 points. The Bavarians are next in action on Wednesday in the DFB Cup trip to Hamburg, before out-of-sorts Dortmund visit the Allianz Arena in the league next Saturday evening.
Arjen out injured
Pep Guardiola made two changes to the team that thrashed Roma 7-1 in midweek, Rafinha replacing the injured Arjen Robben and Dante standing in for Jerome Boateng.
It meant the champions lined up with Neuer in goal, a back four of Rafinha, Mehdi Benatia, Dante and Juan Bernat, Xabi Alonso in the holding role, Philipp Lahm and David Alaba in midfield, and a front three of Thomas Müller, Robert Lewandowski and Mario Götze.
Borussia showed five changes compared to the 5-0 Europa League win over Limassol, with Herrmann, Raffael, Dominguez, Kramer and Hahn coming in for Jantschke (flu), Nordtveit, Hazard, Hrgota and Traore.
After Felix Zwayer whistled play underway, FCB seized the initiative and Lewandowski headed an early chance over the bar, with Müller directing a dribbling cross-shot wide of Gladbach keeper Sommer’s far upright. However, what was to prove Bayern’s biggest chance of the night came on ten minutes: Alaba found space and time on the left of the box and spotted Sommer a shade too far off his line. The Austrian aimed for the top right corner, but the keeper recovered and finger-tipped the effort against the post.
Bayern easily had the upper hand after that but were unable to break down the home defence expertly marshalled by the seasoned Martin Strazl. Borussia showed their pace and danger on the break just once before half-time when Kruse held off Rafinha and went one-on-one with Neuer, but the striker hesitated and the FCB man made the save.
But Favre’s men were lucky in the run-in to the break when Lewandowski charged down the left channel and fired goalwards, the ball taking a wicked deflection off Dominguez' thigh and dribbling just inches past the left-hand post with Sommer wrong-footed.
Bayern hold on after half-time
Borussia came out energetically after the restart and Neuer came to his side’s rescue on 52 minutes when the home team fashioned a three-on-two opening and Kruse released Hahn, who arrowed in a shot from inside the box. But the Germany keeper dived full-length and made a superb save in the corner. Neuer was in action again shortly afterwards, tipping aside Raffael’s dangerously floating free-kick just as the ball seemed poised to sneak under the crossbar.
FCB had a fight on their hands and Guardiola opted for changes, sending on Ribery for Rafinha and then Pizarro for the weary Müller with quarter of an hour to play. Neuer was easily the busier of the keepers now with a fine save to beat aside Raffael’s drive towards the near post, before Götze seemed poised to wriggle clear in the box only to be denied by a last-ditch Stranzl tackle. The striker fell but Zwayer opted for a goal-kick.
Shaqiri replaced Götze for the last seven minutes and the Swiss attacker was soon in the thick of it with a lay-off for Bernat, but the Spaniard’s shot whistled past the post and the game remained goalless through to the final whistle.