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STATEMENT OF INTENT
Bayern knew a win would draw them level with Borussia Dortmund at the top of the standings and put in a muscular display to earn the win. It wasn't always pretty, but Niko Kovac's side were the better team overall and deserve the spoils. The title race is well and truly on now!
And we're under way again as the home team start the second half. Gladbach had the wind in their sails towards the end of the first 45 minutes, so will be looking to build on that momentum now. No personnel changes from either side at the break.
LEWANDOWSKI SLOTS HOME
The striker gets his second of the game, coolly slotting the ball into the bottom left corner, sending Sommer the wrong way.
PENALTY TO BAYERN!
Kimmich charges in the Gladbach box and checks back, only to be brought down by Hazard. The referee points to the spot.
Martinez wins possession in midfield and strides forward on the counter. He finds Lewandowski, who plays in Jeong on the right. He does a stepover to get away from Wendt before curling a shot at goal, but he doesn't get much power behind it and Sommer saves.
BUNDESLIGA DEBUT FOR JEONG
The 19-year-old South Korean attacker replaces Müller on the pitch, making his first appearance in the top flight.
ON COMES DAVIES
Gnabry's shift is over as he's replaced by Alphonso Davies to make his fourth Bundesliga outing.
SANCHES ON FOR JAMES
The Colombian playmaker goes off after a decent shift, giving Renato Sanches a chance to show what he can do in midfield.
GAME OVER SURELY?
A stunning cross from Kimmich on the right lands right on Lewandowski's head. He's unmarked but heads it straight at Sommer, who is also able to block the rebound. The ball falls kindly to Gnabry, though, and he makes no mistake, smashing in from close range.
James and Müller carve the Gladbach defence apart with some quick passing on the edge of the box and suddenly Lewandowski is free in front of goal. Unusually for him, however, he takes an extra touch to settle himself, giving Zakaria just enough time to slide in and make a crucial block.
Gladbach make an attacking substitution as Brazilian attacker Raffael makes his comeback from a broken collarbone, replacing Hoffmann.
CLOSE FROM ZAKARIA!
Thiago's first touch lets him down for once and Kramer pounces on the loose ball to swiftly launch a counter-attack. He finds Hazard on the left and the Belgian romps forward before cutting inside and switching the play to Zakaria, charging up on the right. The midfielder, only just on as a substitute, drills a low show at goal, but it goes just wide of the far post.
HAZARD A DANGER
Hazard shows Boateng a clean pair of heels on the left and tears away into space. He dinks it to the back post to Plea, who opts to head the ball down into the path of Neuhaus, rather than controlling it and shooting, and Bayern are able to clear.
ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY FOR LEWANDOWSKI
Wendt gets caught in possession on the Gladbach left by Thiago and the Spaniard scampers into the box and pulls the ball back into the middle to Lewandowski. He takes a touch to try and find a yard of space to shoot, but Ginter is alive to the danger and makes an excellent block.
HAPPY TRAVELLER LEWANDOWSKI
Today's goal was the Pole's 14th in the Bundesliga this season, a league-high nine of which have come away from home. He now has 120 league goals for Bayern, putting him third in the club's all-time chart behind Gerd Müller (365) and CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (162).
LOVELY FROM NEUHAUS
Neuhaus drops a shoulder and shimmies away from Martinez brilliantly on the edge of the Bayern box. He smashes a shot at goal but it's blocked - the referee awards a free-kick for a handball by Boateng. Wendt takes it and rifles a rising effort past the wall and only just wide of the far post - Neuer wouldn't have got anywhere near it if it had been on target.
LEWANDOWSKI GETS HIS GOAL!
Moments after James fires narrowly wide, Lewandowski finally gets on the scoresheet. He collect Thiago's slide-rule pass on the turn, takes a touch away from the defender and smashes the ball high into the net. An outstanding finish from the 30-year-old.
BAYERN AHEAD AT THE INTERVAL
The visitors deserve to be in front after a blistering start to the match, with two goals inside the first 11 minutes. They could have added a couple more afterwards and be out of sight already, but Sommer kept Gladbach in the game with some excellent saves. Stindl reduced the deficit with his 50th Bundesliga goal - two of his three goals this season have been against Bayern - leaving the match finely poised at the haldway stage.
TWO ADDITIONAL MINUTES
Will we see another goal before the break? Both teams are getting forward at every opportunity, so it's not out of the question.
HALF-CHANCE FOR PLEA
Lang pings a cross into the middle from wide on the right and finds Plea, who's first touch is excellent. He has his back to goal and a couple of defenders at his back, but he shields the ball well and manages to shoot on the turn from about 12 yards out. It's a decent hit, but lacks the requisite power or precision to beat Neuer, who saves comfortably.
LEWANDOWSKI GOES CLOSE AGAIN
Lewandowski rolls the ball out to Müller on the right and then dashes into the six-yard box to get on the end of the cross. He looks certain to score, but Elvedi throws himself into the challenge and diverts his header over the bar. Martinez has another free header from the ensuing corner, but it's straight at Sommer.
Gladbach have a foothold in the game as Hazard slips a lovely ball through Süle's legs into the path of Stindl, who rifles a first-time shot past Neuer at the near post!
GNABRY DENIED AGAIN!
Lewandowski plays a sublime ball inside Lang, allowing Gnabry to race free towards goal. He gets into the box, over to the left, and tries to curl a shot with his right foot inside the far post. He telegraphed his intentions somewhat, although that should not detract from a brilliant save by Sommer.
CHANCE FOR GNABRY
James gets to the byline on the left and spies Gnabry in space, so rolls an inviting ball into his path. The Germany international takes it first time and tries to catch Sommer out at his near post, but doesn't get enough power behind it and the Gladbach keeper makes the save.
MÜLLER GOALS - GOOD OMEN FOR BAYERN
Müller's strike was his first in the Bundesliga since 24 November 2018 against Fortuna Düsseldorf, ending a run of 767 minutes without a goal. Bayern have never lost in the Bundesliga in a game in which Müller has found the net (80 wins, five draws).
ANOTHER CHANCE FOR LEWANDOWSKI!
Müller drags his marker out of position and then flicks the ball into space for Lewandowski to run onto. He gets into the penalty box and shoots, but Sommer makes a fine save. It's an important block too, as Gladbach's confidence has grown over the last few minutes.
DISALLOWED GOAL FOR PLEA
Gladbach win a corner, which is whipped in from the right. The hosts win the first header and it falls to Plea inside the six yard box. He has his back to goal, so chests the ball down and smashes it in on the turn, but it's rightly chalked off for offside.
FIRST FOR MARTINEZ
Martinez has scored in back-to-back Bundesliga games for the first time ever, having previously netted the winner in Bayern's 1-0 victory against Hertha Berlin last week. Both goals were headers.
SIGNS OF LIFE FROM GLADBACH
The home side put together their first promising attack of the game and Neuhaus squeezes a ball through to Lang, who drags his shot wide from 10 yards. It wouldn't have counted anyway as Lang was offside. Moments later, Wendt swings in a cross from the left and the unmarked Neuhaus rises to meet it, but he can't direct his header towards goal and it goes harmlessly wide.
MÜLLER DOUBLES THE LEAD!
Thomas Müller scores his fifth goal of the season and it's a very easy goal for Bayern. Gnabry is afforded time and space to curl in a cross from the left and he finds Müller, who's initial shot is saved by Sommer, but the rebound falls kindly for him and he taps in from close range.
JOY DOWN THE RIGHT
Bayern are getting forward well at the moment and are finding plenty of space on their right flank, where Kimmich and James are teaming up well and getting behind Gladbach left-back Wendt to ping balls into the middle.
BAYERN IN CONTROL
Gladbach are looking rather shellshocked after going behind so early and can't get hold of the ball at present - and when they do, they're losing it very quickly.
WHAT A START!
The corner is whipped in from the right and Martinez heads in from close range! It's reviews by VAR in Cologne after Elvedi ends up on the floor, but no foul is given and the goal stands!
CHANCE FOR LEWANDOWSKI!
Gladbach give the ball away cheaply in midfield, Müller plays it through to Lewandowski, who charges through on goal. He shoots, but sommer saves for a corner!
AND WERE OFF!
Here we go, then! Lewandowski gets the ball rolling for Bayern in what should be a cracker!
THE STAGE IS SET
We're just a few minutes away now! The teams are mingling in the tunnel, high-fiving the mascots and getting their game faces on.
YOUTHFUL BENCH FOR BAYERN
The absences of Robben, Ribery, Coman, Tolisso, Alaba and Goretzka have opened up space on the visitors' bench, with goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, defender Mats Hummels and midfielder Renato Sanches the only established first-team members listed as substitutes. Teenage quartet Alphonso Davies (18), Lars Lukas Mai (18), Woo-Yeong Jeong (19) and Meritan Shabani (19) are the others and have a combined total of seven Bundesliga appearances between them. Jeong is the only one still to make his competitive debut for the senior team.
GLADBACH TEAM NEWS
The Foals start with the exact same XI that began the reverse fixture this season, which they famously won 3-0. That means USA international Fabian Johnson, who started at right-back for the last four matches, drops to the bench, with Michael Lang taking his place. Elsewhere, Brazilian attacker Raffael is included in the squad for the first time in 2019 following injury, while defender Nico Elvedi makes his 100th Bundesliga appearance.
BAYERN TEAM NEWS
It's largely as expected for the visitors, with Thomas Müller, James Rodriguez and Serge Gnabry filling the attacking midfield roles for Bayern, while Javi Martinez, who has been in terrrific form in defensive midfield, partners Thiago just in front of the defence. Jerome Boatng gets the nod ahead of Mats Hummels alongside Niklas Süle at centre-back, with Rafinha deputising for the injured David Alaba at left-back.
GLADBACH STARTING XI: Sommer – Lang, Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt – Neuhaus, Kramer, Hofmann – Hazard, Stindl (c), Plea
SUBS: Sippel, Strobl, Herrmann, Zakaria, Raffael, Johnson, Jantschke OUT: Beyer (ankle), Cuisance (Achilles), Drmic (thigh), Doucoure (thigh), Jantschke (flu), Traore (groin) COACH: Dieter Hecking
BAYERN STARTING XI: Neuer (c) - Kimmich, Süle, Boateng, Rafinha - Thiago, Martinez - Müller, James, Gnabry - Lewandowski
SUBS: Ulreich, Hummels, Davies, Jeong, Mai, Sanches, Shabani OUT: Alaba (ankle), Coman (thigh), Goretzka (ankle), Ribery (stomach bug), Robben (thigh), Tolisso (knee) COACH: Niko Kovac
Kick-off is just over an hour away, so the starting line-ups are expected out shortly. We'll bring them to you as soon as they drop in.
KOVAC TO WING IT ON THE FLANKS?
Bayern arrive in Gladbach without Arjen Robben, Franck Ribery and Kingsley Coman, their preferred trio of widemen able to inflict damage in the final third. Serge Gnabry therefore seems likely to start given his pace and ability in one-on-one situations, but who will fill the void on the other wing? One option could be South Korean 'jeongster' Woo-Yeong Jeong, 19, who has scored 12 goals in 19 reserve team fixtures this season and has impressed during training with the first team. More likely, however, is that Thomas Müller - who has not started for Bayern since Matchday 20 - will come into the side.
KRAMER UNCONCERNED BY FORM DIP
Gladbach may be winless in their last three Bundesliga games, scoring just once in that time, but midfielder Christoph Kramer insists there is nothing to worry about. "I can't understand why people are getting nervous at all. We're still right on track. Nobody needs to worry about us. We're still in a good position and can go into the Bayern game feeling good. They're one of the best teams on the planet, but if they don't have a good day and we do, it's not like we don't have a chance against them."
SLEEPLESS NIGHTS FOR HAZARD?
Gladbach attacker Thorgan Hazard has had a quiet 2019 so far by his standards. The Belgian is without a goal since Matchday 16 and, having become a father for the third time in mid-February, was asked by coach Dieter Hecking if he was getting enough rest during the night. "He wanted to know if everything was OK at home with the kids and whether I perhaps wasn't sleeping as much as a result," the 25-year-old told Bild. "But I told him everything was fine and that I feel in good shape physically. My wife is fantastic and I don't have to do anything at night - I just play with the two older kids during the day. Now I need to score again. With a bit of luck I'd already have two or three in 2019, but I think the goals will come again now - hopefully starting on Saturday!"
GLADBACH IMPRESSIVE AGAINST BAYERN AT HOME
The Foals may have wobbled on their own patch recently with those defeats to Hertha and Wolfsburg in February, but they have done well at home against Bayern in recent years. Gladbach have won two, drawn one and lost one of their four most recent encounters at Borussia-Park, while a Thorgan Hazard penalty and a goal from Matthias Ginter earned them a 2-1 win when Bayern last rocked up (on 25 November 2017).
SUPER SEPP AT 75
Bayern will no doubt have club legend Sepp Maier in their thoughts at the Borussia-Park today. Their iconic former goalkeeeper turned 75 on Thursday - although he insists he wants to live to the age of 100! "I still feel like a 25-year-old," he laughed. Part of Bayern's 'golden trio' in the 1970s along with Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller, Maier played over 600 games for the Bavarians, and still holds the club record for Bundesliga appearances (473). He won four Bundesliga titles and three European Cups, not to mention the 1972 European Championship and the 1974 World Cup with Germany. Later voted the country's Goalkeeper of the Century, 'The Cat from Anzing' was some animal in between the sticks.
BAYERN IN OMINOUS FORM
Bayern have won 10 of their last 11 Bundesliga outings, with a 3-1 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen exactly a month ago the only blot on their copybook. The champions have been slowly but surely closing the gap on leaders Dortmund, and will go level with BVB if they beat Gladbach today. "We absolutely need the three points," Kovac stressed.
CUISANCE AND DRMIC OUT
Gladbach will be without Michaël Cuisance (heel) and Josip Drmic (thigh) for today's game against Bayern, with the two players joining long-term absentees Ibrahima Traore (groin) and Mamadou Doucoure (thigh) on the sidelines. However, Raffael could return to the squad after recovering from a collarbone injury.
KOVAC: "WE WON’T LET THE INJURIES GET THE BETTER OF US"
Bayern will have to do without half a dozen players this evening, with David Alaba and Leon Goretzka joining Kingsley Coman, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Corentin Tolisso on the sidelines. On the other hand, Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels have recovered from illness and should be able to start in Mönchengladbach. "We won't let the injuries get the better of us," insisted Bayern coach Niko Kovac. "We're approaching the business end of the season now. We need all three points, even though it will be a difficult game."
Gladbach and Bayern were giants of the domestic and European game in the 1970s, sharing nine consecutive Bundesliga titles and getting their hands on plenty of continental silverware. To find out more about their long-standing rivalry, check out our feature article - 'Why is Gladbach vs. Bayern such an important fixture in the Bundesliga' - by clicking on the 'News' tab above.
BAYERN’S BOGEY TEAM
Gladbach have been something of a thorn in Bayern's side in recent years, even if they have never come close to challenging them for Bundesliga supremacy. Since 2014, they have picked up more points against the Bavarians than any other side (14 in nine league meetings). Over that period, they are the only team to boast a positive record against the record champions (W4 D2 L3).
HECKING: "WE MUST BE EFFICIENT"
Gladbach boss Dieter Hecking shrugged off any suggestion that recent form could count against Gladbach, although he conceded that his side have to improve on a return of just one goal in their last three matches. "We have no reason to be uncertain or feel under pressure to react with defiance," he insisted. "We want to be bold and attack - but we must be efficient."
FOALS LOOKING FOR HOME COMFORT
Until the start of February, Gladbach boasted a perfect home record in the Bundesliga this season, having won all nine of their games at the Borussia-Park. But something came unstuck last month, as the Foals suffered back-to-back 3-0 defeats at home to Hertha Berlin and Wolfsburg. If they want to stay in the hunt for a place in next season's Champions League, Dieter Hecking's men will need to rediscover the form that made Borussia-Park such a fortress earlier in the campaign.
BAYERN OUT FOR REVENGE?
As well as looking to close the gap on Dortmund, Bayern will be determined to show Gladbach who's boss after suffering a shock 3-0 loss at the Allianz Arena in the reverse fixture. Alassane Plea, Lars Stindl and Patrick Herrmann got the goals on October 6th as the Foals inflicted a first (and so far only) home defeat of the season on the Bavarian giants.
WELCOME TO "TOPSPIEL" CENTRAL
Good morning everybody! All eyes in Germany and beyond will be on tonight's Matchday 24 "Topspiel" (literally, "top game") between European chasers Borussia Mönchengladbach (3rd) and reigning champions Bayern Munich (2nd). Can Niko Kovac's visitors make the most of Borussia Dortmund's stumble in Augsburg last night and draw level on points at the top of the table? Stick with us to find out - and for all the build-up to what should be a cracking encounter!
Welcome along to the match centre for the game M'gladbach vs. FC Bayern from matchday 24 of the 2018/19 Bundesliga season at the BORUSSIA-PARK. Check back here for full information on the match.