Gala in Gladbach: three takeaways from Borussia Mönchengladbach v FC Bayern
Following Borussia Dortmund’s shock defeat in Augsburg, it means that Bayern are now level on points with the early season leaders. Not that long ago, the gap was as large as nine points.
This was an immense team performance, with every man playing his part. Robert Lewandowski was arguably the pick of the bunch, but once again I will offer a shout out for Javi Martínez.
The big Spaniard was again outstanding, always in the thick of things as Gladbach’s talented midfield were closed right down and left with little breathing space. Javi was a rock against Liverpool and scored the crucial winner against Hertha BSC, and again was on the mark after just two minutes to give Niko Kovač’s men the perfect start.
This is vintage Martínez, and if he can maintain this form there will surely be many more good times to come. It has been one hell of a renaissance.
The one thing that has largely been missing from Bayern’s game this season has been their legendary mercilessness. That willingness not just to put their opponents away, but to crush them completely. Today, we saw some of that old school relentlessness.
On another day, Die Roten could have scored a dozen. Chances came aplenty, and were it not for Gladbach keeper Yann Sommer, it would have been considerably worse for the home side. Sommer was something of a nemesis for Robert Lewandowski in particular, pulling off a succession of excellent saves to deny the Polish striker.
Perhaps it was the thought of the earlier defeat at the Allianz, and a desire to put Gladbach back in their place. To destroy them for their temerity, for daring to come to Munich and walk away with all three points so easily. Either way, this was the FC Bayern München we have wanted to see for a long time.
Not that long ago, Borussia Dortmund were nine points clear at the top. Critics were hailing the Westphalians as the champions elect, and dismissing any hope of a Bavarian fightback. As the season turns into the final straight, everything is back in the balance.
The fuss being made about Dortmund coach Lucien Favre has calmed down. Talk of BVB’s Spanish striker Paco Alcácer challenging Lewy for the Torjägerkanone has similarly been muted. On the Bavarian side of the fence, those who had been so quick to lay into Niko Kovač have gone mysteriously silent.
The job has not been done yet. In fact, it is just beginning. Bayern are back on terms with their yellow rivals, and the next step is to press on and pass them at the top. The meeting between the two teams at the Allianz Arena at the beginning of next month is set to be an epic – though I will still stop short of describing the fixture as Der Klassiker.
Of course, if both teams continue on their recent trajectories, a win for Bayern could well seal the title. But let us not get too far ahead of ourselves. There are still ten matches to play.