A depleted Bayern Munich suffered their first loss since mid November as Borussia Monchengladbach ushered in the return of the Bundesliga with a comeback win at a snowy Allianz Arena.
Bayern have had to deal with a number of positive Covid-19 cases during the Christmas break, with Manuel Neuer, Kingsley Coman, Leroy Sane and Dayot Upamecano among the players forced to watch Friday’s clash from the comfort of their homes.
While the starting XI was pretty different from what we’ve seen under Julian Nagelsmann this season, there was plenty of familiarity over the first goalscorer as Robert Lewandowski put his side ahead.
The Poland striker collected Thomas Muller’s pass and turned brilliantly to get into the box before rifling a strike in at the near post.
While Monchengladbach looked feeble in attack with Breel Embolo particularly isolated, they still managed to find an equaliser before the half hour mark.
Bayern failed to clear their lines from a cross and Florian Neuhaus popped up to rattle an excellent volley under Sven Ulreich.
The visitors seized the momentum and stunningly took the lead soon after their first strike as Stefan Lainer met Luca Netz’s corner to nod into the far corner.
An equaliser nearly came on the stroke of half time as Lewandowski struck the post from an acute angle before Muller saw his follow-up miraculously cleared off the line by Matthias Ginter.
The hosts came up against an impressive Yann Sommer in the Monchengladbach goal, with the Swiss stopper denying Lewandowski, Musiala and Gnabry on multiple occasions.
While the defeat doesn’t alter Bayern’s position at the top of the Bundesliga, it does give second place Borussia Dortmund the opportunity to cut the gap to six points when they face Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday.
Monchengladbach, meanwhile, ended a run of five games without a victory and have moved up to 11th in the table.
Sven Ulreich (GK) – 6/10 – Replaced the ill Neuer for his first league appearance of the season. Got a flailing hand to Lainer’s header but couldn’t keep it out. Good save at the near post to deny Embolo.
Joshua Kimmich (RB) – 5/10 – Recovered from coronavirus complications and needed to slot in at right-back. Weak flick away fell to Neuhaus to convert. Inches away from an equaliser in the second half.
Benjamin Pavard (CB) – 5/10 – Vital recovering challenge to deny Monchengladbach their third goal. Neither he nor Sule took control of Bayern’s backline and they struggled as a result.
Niklas Sule (CB) – 5/10 – Made a pretty poor attempt to connect with the cross that led to Neuhaus’ equaliser. Very clunky and unstable.
Marcel Sabitzer (LB) – 5/10 – A rare start for the Austrian, who was needed to fill in at left-back. Obviously not his natural position and struggled throughout.
Jamal Musiala (CM) – 7/10 – Smacked Ginter with a whack to the head while attempting a shot. Forced a top save from Sommer with a strike which was a little too central. Did well defensively, making a number of interceptions.
Marc Roca (CM) – 4/10 – Passing was really sloppy in the first half, completing just 78% of the balls he attempted. Doesn’t get too many opportunities when Bayern are at full strength and probably won’t be seen once the injury and Covid-19 situation improves.
Thomas Muller (AM) – 6/10 – Grabbed an assist for the first goal, though it was more about Lewandowski’s turn than Muller’s pass. Unlucky to see a goal-bound strike cleared away by Ginter.
Serge Gnabry (RW) – 5/10 – Found some space early on and had a low drive saved by Sommer. Not his usual dangerous self and wandered offside a little too often.
Robert Lewandowski (ST) – 7/10 – Had a nicely worked opportunity blocked by Sommer early on. Made no mistake moments later, producing a wonderful turn to get in behind Monchengladbach’s defence and smash beyond the goalkeeper. Clipped the post soon after Bayern went behind and later saw a lobbed effort come back off the crossbar. Would have had a hat-trick on another day.
Malik Tillman (LW) – 5/10 – Came into the starting XI for his first ever start for Bayern. Tough situation to come into and while the 19-year-old couldn’t make much of an impact, he’ll be all the better for the experience.
Lucas Copado (ST) – 5/10
Paul Wanner (AM) – 5/10