Bensebaini 2 – Bayern 1: Defeated in the Borussia Park
First against fourth. Leaders Gladbach welcomed Bayern for the matchday’s highlight fixture at 3.30 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. Bayern made the trip to Germany’s west with the intention of reducing the point deficit to their opponents. It was not meant to happen.
Flick made several changes to his team from last weekend’s defeat against Leverkusen. In his sixth game as Bayern coach, he opted to start without Pavard at right-back for the first time. Kimmich took his place. Martínez, Perišić and Gnabry also moved to the bench for Boateng, Thiago and Tolisso.
Marco Rose also changed his team in four positions and brought on Ginter, Hofmann, Pléa and Stindl. For captain Lars Stindl, it was the first start in the Bundesliga since April 13, 2019.
Gladbach tried to press Bayern very high right from the outset, with Pléa and Thuram closing down Bayern’s defenders and Stindl at the top of the midfield diamond regularly hassling Thiago. Bayern, however, managed to play around this pressing with ease. Behind Stindel especially there were always spaces opening up for Thiago and sometimes Kimmich, which Bayern took advantage of to bridge the midfield quickly.
In the 20th minute, Tolisso injured himself without any opposition impact. Perišić came on for him and took his position on the left wing, Müller moved to the eight position and Coman switched from left to right wing.
In the 26th minute, Sommer parried a well-placed shot from Müller behind for a corner. Bayern went for a short corner, the ball then got to Kimmich who tried his luck from distance. The shot slipped through Sommer’s legs and seemed to trundle across the line – but did not quite get there. Sommer managed to recover the ball a fraction of a second before it passed the line with its total circumference. No goal.
Bayern kept on creating more half-chances before Pléa’s shot in the arms of Manuel Neuer in the 41st minute marked Gladbach’s first attempt on goal. The game went to half-time goalless after 47 minutes.
Both teams returned to the pitch unchanged. But the profligate waste of chances by Bayern was about to change very soon. This time, it did not take more than one shot on Yann Sommer’s goal for the ball to go in. Perišić and Müller played a one-two at the edge of the penalty area with Müller chipping the ball back to Perišić. Perišić took the ball with his back to goal, spinned around and volleyed the ball on Sommer’s goal. Gladbach’s goalkeeper was caught on the wrong foot and half-parried the ball into his own net for the deserved 0-1 lead for the guests.
The goal had the effect of a wake-up call for Gladbach, who suddenly began to show a completely different performance. They started to force Bayern to make more and more mistakes and became threatening themselves for the first time this afternoon at all. So when Bensebaini’s equalizer came in the 60th minute, this was not entirely unexpected. His free header after a Gladbach corner left Neuer with no chance, making it 1-1.
The minutes after, Gladbach kept the upper hand. After Stindl had missed a good chance in the 80th minute, it was for Bensebaini to turn the game around in injury time. He scored the 2-1 winning goal for Gladbach from a penalty kick. Martínez, who was subbed on for a slightly incapacitated Boateng in the 68th, had already been booked for a foul in the 82nd minute. His sliding tackle against Thuram in the 90th minute in the penalty box was ill timed and brought the Frenchman down. The consequence was a sending off for Martinez, a penalty for Gladbach, and a game lost for Bayern.
On Wednesday, Bayern will have a dead rubber in the Champions League against Tottenham. After two defeats in a row, the next Bundesliga points are there to be gained next Saturday at home against Werder.
Bayern went into the matchday four points behind Gladbach. Now the gap is seven to Gladbach and five to Leipzig. Bayern are in sixth place at a disappointing 24 points. At the end of the matchday, they could even drop to seventh place. Bayern have already lost four times in only 14 league games.
Flick has been convincing so far. In every game under him, the team showed that they had a clear plan. The defeat against Leverkusen was unfortunate. Today things looked good at first too. Gladbach playing without a real left winger gave Kimmich plenty of space to take advantage of and Thiago rendered Gladbach’s pressing ineffective. Bayern’s pressing and gegenpressing worked well so that Gladbach did not manage to develop a game of their own for about 50 minutes. Bayern controlled the game and had a lot of shots. However, most of their chances were half chances at best.
More importantly, however, when Gladbach decided to rise up and started competing after Bayern’s lead at the beginning of the second half, almost nothing of Bayern’s dominance and control up to that point remained. Flick’s side neither was able to manage the lead, nor to exploit the spaces Gladbach’s taking charge offered them, for example to launch a counter attack to close out the game early.
Over recent years, Bayern could improve its modest record away at Gladbach a little. In the last 10 games on the road before today’s game, the record showed four Bayern wins (including the spectacular 5-1 of last season) and only three defeats.
What followed now was a setback and the 21st defeat in 52 games away at Gladbach. But this season, Gladbach seem to develop into more than just a bogey team for Bayern. A Gladbach side in its current form has to be expected there or thereabouts when the championship is decided next spring.
A silver lining in numbers: Thomas Müller played his 332nd Bundesliga match for Bayern today, catching up with Philipp Lahm in 10th place in the all-time record of most appearances. With today’s assist he has increased his account to 133 assists. In combination with his 111 goals, he is second in Bayern’s all-time scorer table only behind his namesake Gerd in first place.