Created on 2019-12-06 at 16:10 PM
It's fourth up against first! In the top clash of Matchday 14, defending champions Bayern Munich travel to leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach. Their mission is to win and have a serious say in the race for the 'autumn championship', the unofficial title awarded to the team top of the table at the midpoint of the campaign.
In view of the four-point deficit to the Rhineland outfit, the message to Hansi Flick's team is clear: Losing is not an option! "We go into every game to win it. We have the quality. We also have what it takes. The team has the experience and quality to cope with this situation," the Bayern coach explained, referring to the league table.
Bayern won the last clash at Borussia Park 5-1. The goals came from Martínez (pictured), Müller, Lewandowski (2) and Gnabry.
Every run comes to an end at some point - and that's how it was for Flick in his fifth game as head coach of the record champions: The 2-1 loss to Bayer 04 Leverkusen was his first defeat, and the Bavarians were annoyed afterward, especially about the numerous good scoring opportunities they failed to take against the Werkself. After the final whistle, Thomas Müller described the failure to convert their chances as "almost unprecedented inefficiency". And so it was convenient for the Reds that the schedule gifted them a few days off before the clash in Mönchengladbach: "Our conversion rate wasn't quite optimal, we want to change that. That's what we've been training this week," Flick revealed.
Gladbach are currently surfing a wave of euphoria: they've consistently topped the table since Matchday 7. The last time that happened over such a long period was in the mid-1970s. The Foals are especially strong at home and have won their last five games at Borussia Park. Accordingly, Marco Rose's team is confident going into the top clash: "We have the ambition to go onto the pitch and play our own game, regardless of the opposition," the 43-year-old explained. "We want to win the game, but we also know that we need a really good day against these top opponents."
The question about the team situation ahead of the important match in Gladbach was answered briefly and concisely by Flick on Friday: "Everything okay so far." The 54-year-old will only be missing long-term absentees Niklas Süle (torn cruciate ligament), Lucas Hernández (ankle injury) and Fiete Arp (rehab following a scaphoid fracture). With the exception of Andreas Poulsen (torn ankle ligament) and Torben Müsel (arthroscopic knee surgery), Gladbach's Marco Rose can draw on his complete squad. Germany defender Matthias Ginter is over a recent injury and is again an option in central defense.
What the coaches say
Hansi Flick: "During my childhood, Gladbach vs. Bayern was always a classic. My brother was a Gladbach fan, I was, of course, a Bayern fan. Gladbach are currently the league leaders, we are fourth. We're going there full of confidence. Both teams play with a lot of dynamism. We mustn't allow them too much space."
Marco Rose (Head coach Borussia Mönchengladbach): "It's always something special to play against the best team in Germany. But we're not making more of it than it is. It's a Bundesliga game that we're looking forward to and that we want to win. For that, we need an absolutely top performance. We want to be very courageous, stay true to ourselves and bring to the pitch that what we've achieved in recent months. It'll be important to function as a team, to put in the legwork, to transition quickly after winning the ball and to be able to find the goal."
This Bundesliga classic enters its 103rd edition on Saturday. If all goes well from Bayern's point of view, the Reds could celebrate a small anniversary. In the last encounter in March, the record champions celebrated a 5-1 victory in Mönchengladbach, triumphing over them for the 49th time in Germany's elite league. Now, victory number 50 could follow.