After being beaten by 'Gladbach in August, and again in January, it was imperative that die Roten won this match; not only to keep the treble dream alive, but to prove once and for all, that they had truly turned the corner. Not only did they emerge victorious against their bogey team, but also overcame several very highly questionable offsides calls by referee Thorsten Kinhoefer's crew, as well as not losing their composure when the early goal wasn't scored. And while Bayern neglected to hang six or seven goals on BMG (you didn't really think they would, did you?), there remained that underlying sense of team unity, the very thing that was missing before they started this stellar run.
Moenchengladbach's keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen was having another game of his life against Bayern Munich - saving Mario Gomez twice, Arjen Robben twice and David Alaba. But, on the other side of the pitch Manuel Neuer was a boss; finally overcoming his two crucial mistakes in two prior outings against this same side. His saves against Marcos Reus had me screaming as loudly as I would for any goal (indeed, singing "Who the f__k is Marcos Reus?"), and the penalty save against Nordveit to end the match had me, and the rest of the Bayern community, hopping around in glee. The team rightfully rushed Neuer as poor Marcos bowed his head and cried.
Possible future Bayern signing Dante did well to deny Thomas Mueller and Mario Gomez almost everything in the box, while shades of Lothar Matthaeus came to haunt him as he skyed his penalty shot. Bavarian central defenders Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng dealt very well with the opposition when Bayern had to open up to go forward.
Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, in double coverage for nearly the whole match, still got up to their usual tricks. Robben still managed to get nine shots off, while Ribery's stellar chance to go one-on-one with ter Stegen was wrongly called offsides.
Toni Kroos' adequate match would have been amazing had he scored his opening screamer that struck the post. And Gustavo got lucky with a few unfortunate tackles that could have seen him off the field. I have an idea that Jupp deliberately placed him as the enforcer, however, so I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
And, what do I say about poor Nils Petersen? You've got to feel for the guy. He never gets a chance to play, and the one time he does, he slips in the box with a wide open shot on goal. Would he have made it? Perhaps. But, we'll never know. It stands to reason, with Ivica Olic leaving, that we need a quality back-up in the striker position for next season, unless Jupp Heynckes wants to start giving Nils a little playing time.
All-in-all, it was a highly frustrating, yet enjoyable 120 minutes of football. A ton of credit goes to Lucien Favre and his team. They play a very organized, disciplined game and it will be a pleasure to watch them in Europe next season. But for now, an exhausted Bayern Munich faces Hannover 96 on Saturday, keeping pace with equally tired Dortmund, who gets a visit from lowly Koeln. The battle for the Bundesliga is on!
Auf gehts, Bayern!
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