Bayern Throw Down The Gauntlet | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 05.08.2005
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Bayern Throw Down The Gauntlet

The 2005-06 season began just like the last one ended. Bayern Munich, playing their first Bundesliga match in the Allianz Arena, come away with a 3-0 victory against an overmatched Mönchengladbach.

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It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't easy for the defending champs Bayern

The 43rd Bundesliga campaign started off as expected but Bayern Munich had to fight hard before leaving the field the clear winners, defeating Mönchengladbach 3-0. Yet the final score doesn't reveal just how close it was the first 85 minutes as the defending champions, playing the last 50 minutes with just ten men, came up against a motivated Gladbach.

Combined, the two teams have won over half (24 total) of the Bundesliga's 42 titles. But since the end of the 1970's, it has been Bayern Munich who have won title after title, German Cup after German Cup, becoming the best team in German soccer. Gladbach, on the other hand, have had to do with just one German Cup success.

FC Bayern München - Borussia Mönchengladbach Eröffnungsspiel Bundesligasaison 2005/06

Bayern's Lucio (l) challenges Borussia's strike Vaclav Sverkos

The opening game started off, in comparison to last year's in Bremen, on time, but it took time for the squads to play some attractive soccer for the 66,000 fans in Munich's new stadium.

"It's a lot different in the new stadium, the atmosphere is a lot different and the fans are motivating," said Bayern keeper Oliver Kahn.

Of course, the supporters were happy to be there but they had to watch soccer that wouldn't rank up there with a Champions League final.

Referee busy early

Referee Manuel Gräfe played a more central role than is desired in most matches in the first 30 minutes. In an attempt to prevent a sometimes shoddy soccer match from spiraling downwards, he was quick to book offenders. One of those booked, was Bayern's new inner defender, Valerien Ismael, for a hard and unnecessary challenge on Gladbach striker Oliver Neuville. This would later haunt the Frenchman.

FC Bayern München - Borussia Mönchengladbach Eröffnungsspiel Bundesligasaison 2005/06

Bayern's newest acquisition, defender Valerien Ismael, had a short game, being sent off in the 38th minute

But first came the lead for Bayern Munich. After looking harmless against a sturdy, confident Gladbach defense, two quick, accurate passes. Hasan Salihamidzic laid the ball nicely onto Bayern striker Roque Santa Cruz who from the goal line dropped it back to English national midfielder Owen Hargreaves who, standing alone, curled the ball past Gladbach keeper Casey Keller in the 28th minute.

Ten minutes later, Gladbach's Neuville created a one-on-one situation against Ismael. A slight tug of the jersey and a push by Ismael forced Neuville down. Referee Gräfe was quick to pull out yellow for the Bayern defender Ismael who received his marching orders for the second bookable offense.

Rote Karte für Ismael FC Bayern München - Borussia Mönchengladbach Eröffnungsspiel Bundesligasaison 2005/06

Oliver Neuville (r) is brought down by Valerien Ismael, who would see the red card

Shaky second-half ends joyfully

The second-half provided few highlights for the home crowd. In fact, they were often on the edge of their seats as the one-man advantage for Gladbach started paying off. The highlight came in the 78th minute when 19-year-old Marcell Jansen, who was a thorn on the right side of the Bayern defense for much of the match, beat two defenders and his shot from some 10 meters out glanced off the outside of the Bayern post.

"We should have scored the equalizer," Gladbach captain Jeff Strasser said after the match.

Which was true. The Gladbach opportunities were exhausted. Munich waited to counterattack and nobody is cooler at doing that than Dutch striker Roy Makaay. In the 86th minute, Jens Jeremies found the striker on a beautiful lob just over the head of Strasser and Makaay pounded the ball past Keller.

Three minutes later, the Dutchman again sneaked behind the Gladbach defenders, receiving a pass from Martin Dimichelis, and again Keller could only watch as Makaay beat him.

A deserved victory for coach Felix Magath's team but maybe not a 3-goal win.

"The game was open until the second goal," was his assessment. A Roy Makaay can seal a match when it is still uncertain. The numerous contenders in the Bundesliga have now received their first message as to whom they must beat in this season. Bayern Munich.

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