Munich - The die is cast, the fixture schedule for the 51st Bundesliga season has been unveiled and it all gets underway on the evening of Friday 9 August at the Allianz Arena, with defending champions FC Bayern Munich playing host to Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Alongside the obvious attractions of any campaign curtain-raiser and the added interest accruing from the FC Bayern Bundesliga debuts of new head coach Pep Guardiola and, fitness permitting, star signing Mario Götze, this is a meeting with genuine old-time allure.
Bayern and Gladbach were the powerhouses of a golden era for the Bundesliga back in the 1970s, splitting eight titles between them over the course of the decade. Paul Breitner was one of the best left backs in the world when he left Bayern for Real Madrid in 1974 and returned to Munich four years later to assume the role of playmaker.
These days a head scout and advisor to the record champions, the straight-talking 1974 World Cup-winner says the game is a "worthy season curtain-raiser, for Pep Guardiola as well. In Borussia Mönchengladbach, he - and all of us at Bayern - are going up against one of the teams who have contributed the most to the Bundesliga over the past four and a half decades."
Gladbach "not a team to park the bus"
Notwithstanding "the odd phase along the way where Borussia have had their problems and struggled to live up to their own high standards," Breitner is anticipating a great game for the neutrals as well: "Mönchengladbach have never been the kind of team to park the bus at the back. When they're at home, they'll keep pressing forward, even if the other side's doing the same, like against Bayern last season. They're willing to take the risk of being turned over at home themselves."
Speaking from personal experience - Gladbach won the first two Bundesliga titles of the 70s, and Bayern the two that followed - Breitner is well-versed in the Foals' tradition, noting that "They play attractive football and know what the fans expect of them. This is a season opener we can all look forward to!" It's a sentiment the Bundesliga's ever-growing army of followers around the world can only heartily agree with.