Created on 22-03-2015 at 19:19 PM
Bayern’s six-game winning streak in the Bundesliga came to an end on Sunday as the champions fell to only their second defeat of term and their first at home in a 2-0 reverse to former arch-rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach.
The 75,000 capacity crowd at the Allianz Arena saw the champions dominate the ball and their high-flying opponents at the start, but Raffael handed the visitors a shock lead against the run of play with their first sniff of a chance on the half-hour. Pep Guardiola’s men increasingly struggled to create clear-cut chances against Gladbach’s well-drilled defence and the visitors struck ruthlessly on the break after 77 minutes with Raffael completing his brace and sealing the points.
With chief pursuers Wolfsburg held to a 1-1 draw at Mainz, the Reds’ second defeat in 26 league games this season means the Bavarians remain on 64 points, now ten clear of the Wolves. The domestic league takes a two-week break for internationals before the leaders return to action on Saturday 4 April in the prestige trip to Borussia Dortmund.
Thiago back on the bench
Guardiola made four changes to the team that cruised to victory at Bremen last week with Manuel Neuer resuming duty in place of Pepe Reina, fit-again Arjen Robben replacing Müller, Xabi Alonso taking over from Sebastian Rode, and Holger Badstuber in for the suspended Mehdi Benatia.
However, the biggest and best team news was the return of Thiago to the subs’ bench, with the gifted Spaniard finally fit again after injury and featuring in a matchday squad for the first time since 29 March 2014.
The home team started with Neuer in goal, Rafinha, Jerome Boateng, Badstuber and Alaba in defence, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Alonso and Juan Bernat in midfield, and Mario Götze, Robben and Robert Lewandowski in the forward line.
Raffael’s shock opener
After referee Florian Meyer whistled play underway it was all Bayern at the start with Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer saving in quick succession from Lewandowski, Götze and Robben. On the rare occasions the Bavarians did not have possession, their pressing was straight out of the textbook so the visitors failed to penetrate the home penalty area for the whole of the first 25 minutes.
There was a setback for the Reds on 24 minutes when Robben was forced out of the action following a foul by Tony Jantschke. The defender was booked and Müller entered the fray. It was still one-way traffic until Gladbach took the lead out of the blue after 30 minutes, Raffael’s smart volley from Patrick Herrmann’s breakaway cross somehow finding its way through Neuer’s hands and over the line.
FCB were roused and Sommer saved from Müller and Schweinsteiger, but the visiting defence marshalled by skipper Martin Stranzl had settled now and proved tough to prise apart, with both Stranzl and Lewandowski requiring treatment after a clash of heads in an aerial duel just before half-time. Alaba had a shot deflected wide and put another into the crowd but the Reds turned round a goal in arrears.
Tough second period
Müller blasted the first chance of the second half high into the south terrace and Götze made a nuisance of himself in the box, but it remained tough going at times against Lucien Favre’s disciplined team and Guardiola sent on Rode for Alonso on the hour. Sommer saved Müller’s header and it was indicative of FCB’s struggles that a Götze corner after 65 minutes was only Bayern’s second of the match.
Lewandowski powered a header goalwards but was pulled back for a foul and Boateng fired high of the target, before Philipp Lahm replaced Götze in the 70th minute. Neuer redeemed himself by pushing André Hahn’s cracking drive onto the near post before gathering the loose ball, but at the other end Sommer reacted well to deny Bernat.
The Reds went two down on 77 minutes when Gladbach clinically struck again on the break, Raffael finishing off a slick move involving Herrmann and Christoph Kramer. FCB went for broke but that left space for counter-attacks and there was a let-off when Fabian Johnson played an awful final ball, but Sommer showed his class with a great save from Lewandowski. Neuer beat away sub Max Kruse’s drive as time ran out for Guardiola’s men.
Live match report for fcbayern.de by Chris Hamley