Borussia Mönchengladbach inflicted a rare defeat on Bayern Munich in a Friday night thriller in the Bundesliga. Florian Neuhaus scored the winner, emerging as the hero after having earlier been the villain.
It’s not always clear which version of Borussia Mönchengladbach you're going to get. There's the one that lost their previous home game to Hoffenheim or this one, a mix of defensive fortitude and attacking precision to see off champions Bayern Munich. But therein lies one of the great joys of Marco Rose’s side: their unpredictability.
This rare Friday night Bundesliga blockbuster started with Bayern racing into a 2-0 lead. Florian Neuhaus was guilty of a strange handball which, however tenuous, resulted in a successful Robert Lewandowksi penalty after a VAR check. Bayern’s second was a moment of artistry by Leon Goretzka, whose delectable finish from distance oozed class.
Hope comes in Hofmann
There appeared to be no way back for Gladbach. Bayern were purring and Gladbach's vulnerability was exposed for all to see. But Gladbach's naivety can also be their most endearing asset – a willingness to attack at all costs made them one of the most entertaining teams in the Bundesliga. Against Bayern Munich, it was the recipe for a sensational comeback.
Rose, who has emerged as the leading candidate to succeed Lucien Favre at Borussia Dortmund, doesn't have one particular style but is a proponent of the pressing game. And it was pressure from Neuhaus, a precise pass by Lars Stindl and a crisp finish by Jonas Hofmann that put Gladbach on the road to recovery.
Ten minutes later, Gladbach and Hofmann had their second. Played just onside by Niklas Süle, Hofmann again received Stindl’s vertical pass and swept the ball past an isolated Manuel Neuer.
The Stindl-Hofmann axis proved too much for Bayern's brittle defense, and with Bayern on the ropes Gladbach scored what proved to be the winner just after the break.
The impressive Neuhaus collected the ball on the edge of the box from Hofmann and caressed a silky smooth shot into the top corner. It was a worthy goal to settle this absorbing contest.
Bayern coach Hansi Flick recognised Gladbach's "brutal efficiency" in front of goal while Hofmann praised his coach for encouraging him to make the runs that created his two goals. "I was told by the coach to make those deep runs," he said. Rose echoed that sentiment: "With the ball we wanted to send Hofmann past the last line and have Stindl a little deeper to play the pass."
It worked a treat and the most surprising thing for Gladbach is that their advantage was rarely in jeopardy. When they got close to a late equalizer, Matthias Ginter was on the line to clear. The World Cup winner was everywhere, delivering a towering performance.
Bayern were camped in Gladbach's half for most of the second half, but Rose's side have shown several times before that they have no problem defending deep and absorbing pressure. They did just that, and their reward was a flagship victory. If only they could play like this every week.
As it happened:
Marco Rose - post-match interview
"I am proud, but I said to the lads we have to keep going. We had a few games where we were short of luck but we worked for it today. The lads did great today but we have to keep it up."
"We were 2-0 down without Bayern having played us off the park, but we weren't brave enough. I think the 2-1 was important for us and it gave us strength."
"I always smile after victories."
Hansi Flick - post-match interview
"Gladbach were very efficient. They took advantage of three of our errors."
"We are very disappointed with the result. Gladbach relied on their transitional play and executed it superbly."
"We have to secure the deep spaces better."
"We controlled the game, had more of the ball, but the individual mistakes hurt us."
Leon Goretzka - post-match interview
"It's not hard to explain. We lost the ball twice in two places where we can't lose the ball... We gave the opposition three gifts today."
"There were individual errors but you can position yourself so that such loss of possession doesn't cause such damage."
"The first 30, 35 minutes we played were some of the best we've played of late."
Florian Neuhaus - post-match interview
On his handball: "A stupid moment from me, but I made sure not to focus on it and so was glad to make up for it with my goal."
Thomas Müller - post-match interview
"We dominated and controlled the first 30 minutes."
"Gladbach waited more which is why they were a bit more passive in the first 30 but they took advantage of one or two of our misplaced passes."
Jonas Hofmann - post-match interview (to DAZN)
"Overjoyed. It was great to take the lead after the break as well. That did us the world of good."
"Last week, I wasn't able to stay as composed but this week I stayed a bit calmer. I'm not sure why but I'm glad they went in and that we won."
What a game! Gladbach have done it. The hosts turn a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 win in one of the games of the season. A brilliant and exciting 90 minutes.
90' Four minutes of added time... Müller gets to a shot on the edge of the box and hits it first time but it is deflected wide. A real chance there.From the corner, Süle's header at the back post is cleared off the line by Ginter. Huge!
89' Hofmann replaced by Jantschke, Wendt is on for the really tired Bensebiani. More defenders behind the ball now for Bayern to find a way past.
87' Gladbach's discipline kicking in here. Defending superbly, no silly fouls, shutting down Bayern's width. Just excellent. Three minutes plus added time to survive.
84' Coman heads down, Davies crosses but it is cleared. Süle tries from 30 yards but that's blocked. Bayern looking a little desperate here. Gladbach closing in on another famous win over the record champions.
81' Bayern are searching here but Gladbach are standing firm. Sané cuts in so much he runs into trouble. A superb Stindl is replaced by Hannes Wolf.
78' Müller has the ball at his feet in the six-yard box but somehow Gladbach get enough bodies in the way. It's going to be a long final 10 minutes for the home side.
75' Zakaria replaced by Patrick Herrmann as Rose looks for fresh legs. Bayern fail to use another corner but Gladbach give it straight back, concede another and Bayern waste again. With this much time left though, it feels like another goal is coming...
70' Is this the beginning of Bayern's comeback? Alaba gets to an effort on the edge of the box, but it's blocked. Bayern venturing into Gladbach's box for the first time in a while. Coman gets a cross for Lewandowski and it's a good one, but it goes over. Gladbach try to play it out of the back but give away a corner. Loose, nervy.
68' Ginter gets smashed in the head by a Sané drive from range and needs some medical attention. Lots of inevitable talk about doing what defenders need to do there but can't help but feel this is a time for a concussion protocol... Costa is replaced by Coman, as expected. Ginter comes back on, which isn't surprising but doesn't feel right.
64' Such an odd evening for Bayern. Lewandowski isolated, Müller not in the game, Bayern's wide players have been doubled up all day and struggled with it. Defensively, conceding three again is a concern. Note, only Hoffenheim, Mainz and Schalke have conceded more than Bayern this season, which is crazy when you think about it.
58' Just heard that it was February 2011 in a game against Cologne that Bayern threw a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2. A while ago then. All of a sudden, Gladbach look very comfortable in possession here. Bayern are the ones who look out of sorts. We have seen it all here tonight - and there's still 30 minutes to go.
51' Flick does not look a happy man, understandably. Kimmich gets clattered by Embolo but no foul, which doesn't exactly improve Flick's mood.
48' GOAL! 3-2 Gladbach (Neuhaus) What have we just seen? Gladbach have turned the game it around. Hofmann feeds Neuhaus on the edge of the box after good pressing from the home side and Neuhaus curls it into the top corner. Wow. I can't remember the last time Bayern threw a 2-0 lead.
46' We are back underway in Mönchengladbach. Will there be a winner tonight?
What a half of football that was. First it looked like Bayern were going to do Bayern things thanks to a crazy penalty and a superb solo from Leon Goretzka, but then Jonas Hofmann stayed ice cold in front of goal on two occasions and here we are. Bayern's issues remain and despite a setback, Gladbach have taken advantage of them. Also:
45+1' GOAL! 2-2 Gladbach (Hofmann) We do! Süle just keeps him onside. What a way to end a brilliant first half of football.
45+1' Do we have an equalizer? Hofmann gets in behind Süle after Stindl hustles Kimmich off the ball and sends him through. He keeps his cool, again. The flag goes up but it is being checked...
43' Bayern not quite putting it all together tonight but so far that doesn't seem to be a problem. Gladbach are in a game here, if they wake up at the back. It has not been Douglas Costa's half, nor Denis Zakaria's. Game has passed them by somewhat. Bayern caught offside a couple of times as they try to press on.
40' Sané tests Sommer from range as Bayern try to score again before the break. Stindl gets a bad cross into a good area and Hofmann gets there before Neuer, and pulls it back but Bayern clear. A real chance there.
36' GOAL! 2-1 Gladbach (Hofmann) The curse of the blog. Just like that, Gladbach are back in it. A superb ball by Lars Stindl slices Bayern's defense and Hofmann runs through and keeps his cool to slot past Neuer. Game on!
34' Good stat here. Robert Lewandowski now has as many goals as Wolfsburg this season, and more than Augsburg, Werder Bremen, Cologne, Bielefeld, Mainz and Schalke. Mayhem. Bayern in control here.
30' Gladbach aren't blameless in this. Too passive and for Goretzka's goal, just didn't close Bayern down fast enough. Not a great positional game so far for Marco Rose's side. Bayern pushing for a third, Gladbach all over the platz.
26' GOAL! 2-0 Bayern Munich (Goretzka) Nothing but quality about that one. Goretzka wins the ball back after a loose Gladbach pass, drives forward, plays a one-two with Sané and then drills it into the back of the net from outside of the box. What a goal, what a player.
24' The more I think about it, the more it seems a moment of madness from Neuhaus there. I think the motion has done him in there. Gladbach nearly equalize instantly but can't get on the end of a great cross. Minutes later, Müller swings in a great cross that Lewandowski gets to but he heads over.
20' GOAL! 1-0 Bayern Munich (Lewandowski) The Pole runs up, hesitates as per ususal and sends Sommer the wrong way. That's 20 on the season for Lewandowski. Crikey. A goal out of nowhere though.
19' PENALTY TO BAYERN! Osmers gives it. Well, that will be a talking point.
17' Lewandowski threads the needle but Sommer is the only who reacts. Bensebaini gets a little hands on with Sané but the game goes on. Goretzka looking ominous in the role Thiago used to occupy so far. Referee Harm Osmers is checking a possible handball. Florian Neuhaus reaches out to stop the ball but it brushes his fingertips and that's a penalty. The move is silly because his hand has no reason to be there but really would be harsh...
14' So far this is the Manuel Neuer show. He comes flying out to hear clear in an act most keepers wouldn't back themselves to make. Bayern are searching, Gladbach are staying disciplined.
11' Costa gets stuck under his own feet, which sparks a Gladbach break. Bensebaini does a great job to hold it up before Hofmann arrives but his shot is blocked. Neuer then does a Cryuff Turn to open up space because he's Manuel Neuer.
10' The moment Bayern step over the halfway line, Gladbach press hard. They do choose to press higher now and again but on the whole it's the push when Bayern venture forward that Marco Rose's side are doing well.
6' High tempo start. Gladbach flirt with a chance inside Bayern's box and then Bayern glide forward with Alphonso Davies but Gladbach do enough. Gladbach win the ball high up but then give it away from a throw-in. Early sparring well underway here.
1' Gladbach, in all white, get us underway.
Bayern in the tunnel
In the pandemic world, Bayern are in the tunnel alone first and they come out onto the field alone too. Neuer chatting to Costa before his start tonight. Big game. Gladbach later follow suit. Nearly go time here.
Flick and Plea
"The team is really up for this game tonight," Hansi Flick said tonight. Flick also spoke of trust in Pavard, which is why he retained his place. "He has to show his experience tonight."
Also, hearing that Plea is not included for Gladbach tonight because of muscular issues picked up in training. His absence is nothing more than precautionary it seems.
"We're not under any pressure to sell anyone," Salihamidzic said before the game tonight. It didn't sound like a definitive no though, or maybe that's just me. As for signing anyone, notably in central defense, the sporting director remained coy and responded with the ususal phrases.
Bayern vs. Dortmund makes the headlines and Schalke vs. Dortmund is the great rivalry of the Bundesliga but this fixture is one of the low-key greats of Germany's top division. Honestly, some of the most famous players and coaches the league has had over the years have worn both colors. A special game and a great way to start a Friday night.
Plea not involved for Gladbach and with Marcus Thuram suspended this is probably the best Gladbach have to offer. Neuhaus will need to be great and Zakaria could do with rediscovering his form.
Bayern keep the out of form Pavard in and it's Douglas Costa who gets the start ahead of key winger Kingsley Coman, who is on the bench. Also, no Boateng in the starting lineup, Flick opts for Alaba and Süle.
Good evening! What a way to start the matchday. Borussia Mönchengladbach against Bayern Munich. The league leader's facing their bogey team of late in a game that could open the door for RB Leipzig and Leverkusen in the title race. The teams have arrived at the stadium. Team news is expected shortly.
Gladbach have won their Hinrunde fixture against Bayern in each of the last three years. Last season, after beating Bayern 2-1 at home on matchday 14, the Foals sat top of the table – in 2020/21 Gladbach find themselves 12 points adrift of the record titleholders.
Player focus: Jonas Hofmann
The German international has started Gladbach’s last two competitive matches following a long injury layoff. He got an assist in both victories over Elversberg and Bielefeld. With Hofmann in the squad, Gladbach have a record of W7, D4 and L2 in all competitions. While he was out injured, they managed only two wins (D4, L3).
Gladbach have picked up more points from their seven away games (11) than in their seven at home (10) this season. The only time the Foals have only recorded two wins and dropped points in five games at home (D4, L1), which is already as often as in the whole of 2019/20 (W12, D2, L3).
Lewandowski has bagged a brace on each of the last three matchdays and could now equal the Bundesliga record of four consecutive two-goal hauls held by Lothar Emmerich (for Dortmund in 1967) and Tomislav Maric (for Wolfsburg in 2001). However, Lewandowski only has four goals in 16 Bundesliga appearances against Gladbach.
Bayern have scored 44 goals from their 14 games in the Bundesliga this season, which would equate to 107 by the end of the campaign. Only once in the league’s history has a team had more at this stage, which was Bayern themselves in 1976/77 with a team featuring Gerd Müller, KarlHeinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeneß.
From the coaches’ mouth: Marco Rose
"We’ve done very well against top opponents in the Champions League this season. You have to find the right attitude in games like that, be brash. We can beat Bayern, but we'll need 90 minutes of conviction to do it."
From the coaches’ mouth: Hansi Flick
"We've addressed it [our slow starts] and want to go into the game with a different mindset and attitude. We want to win more challenges and do more when we don't have possession, which is important. We can't just rely on Manu. We must show what we’re capable of."
Bayern have fallen behind in eight straight Bundesliga matches for the first time in their history. However, they haven’t lost a single one of them (W5, D3). No Bundesliga team had ever before trailed on eight consecutive matchdays without losing. The previous record was five games, achieved six times.