Munich - Lights, cameras, action! The Bundesliga is back and the world will be watching as defending champions and quadruple-winners FC Bayern Munich raise the curtain on the 51st Bundesliga campaign against Borussia Mönchengladbach this evening (kick-off: 20:30 CEST).
More to come
In normal circumstances there would have been a huge interest in the fixture marking the start of eight months of intense excitement, but there is even more anticipation surrounding the Matchday 1 Klassiker at the sold-out Allianz Arena, courtesy of Bayern's standout 2012/13 campaign and their staff additions in particular.
Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League holders Bayern begin the defence of those three crowns with no ordinary man orchestrating matters from the bench. 14 trophies during four years in charge of FC Barcelona mean new Bayern coach Pep Guardiola has a lot to live up to, as do his team after a year of unprecedented success.
Filling the boots of Jupp Heynckes in view of what he achieved last season is an unenviable task, but the mantra in Munich is that the three trophies won last term is only the beginning. “We can get even better,” in a warning to those who believe the Bavarians may be satiated by last season’s trophy haul. “It will take time, but I think we’ll get even better.”
Indeed, time is the buzzword at Bayern and Guardiola renewed his appeal for patience on the eve of his Bundesliga bow. “We still need more time,” he said. “We’ve got to organise things as best we can right now. We’re in a process.” Nevertheless, that process does not foresee any more setbacks after a week ago. “Our season starts tomorrow, and we’re ready,” stated Guardiola.
Gladbach are also as ready as they can be in view of the challenge they face against a side who have not been beaten since April, and who lost only once in the Bundesliga last season. The Foals therefore have little to lose and plenty to gain. “The game’s going to be screened in many countries and the whole world is going to be watching us,” said full-back Tony Jantschke.
“We know that we’re going to Munich as rank outsiders, yet we gave a good impression of ourselves there last year and, with a bit of luck, maybe we can take something away with us. It’s going to be a highlight and a tough challenge to begin with.” Gladbach realised just that last month when they were beaten 5-1 by Bayern in the Telekom Cup. “But the Bundesliga is different,” added Jantschke.
While one Catalan prepares to make his Bundesliga debut, another adopted one will have to put his on ice. New signing Thiago Alcantara has not recovered sufficiently from a bout of fever and misses out on the opener. Otherwise on the personnel front, fellow midfielder Luiz Gustavo is still short of match fitness, while Mario Götze, Bayern's other major signing this summer, is not yet ready either, although he “could maybe play a few minutes” in a friendly against Györi ETO FC on Sunday.
Bayern: Neuer - Lahm, Javi Martinez, Dante, Alaba - Kroos, Schweinsteiger - Robben, T. Müller, Ribery - Mandzukic
Gladbach: ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl, Alvaro Dominguez, Daems - Nordtveit, Xhaka - Herrmann, Arango - Raffael, Kruse