Borussia Monchengladbach – Bayern Munich Preview: Nordtveit seeks to halt champions' run

The resurgent Foals will face their sternest test of the season so far when they welcome the runaway leaders to Borussia Partk on Saturday

Borussia Monchengladbach defender Havard Nordtveit is quietly confident that his in-form side can end Bayern Munich’s unbeaten run when the two meet in the Bundesliga on Saturday.

Coach Andre Schubert has overseen a dramatic upturn in the club’s fortunes since succeeding Lucien Favre in late September, with the hosts having lost only one of their last 14 games in all competitions.

But champions Bayern have set a new Bundesliga record by remaining unbeaten since the start of the season and Nordtveit is aware that his side will have to be at their best to bring that astonishing run to an end at Borussia-Park.

“It is always an honour and an enjoyable experience playing against Bayern Munich,” he said.

“They are one of the best teams in Europe, if not in the world and particularly going forward, they are incredibly strong.

“If you want to pick up points against Bayern, then you have to defend intelligently. 

“Many teams adopt a highly defensive setup, but this is often ineffective due to the fact that Bayern tend to eventually find a hole. 

“We will not only concentrate on our defence, but will look to play forward. 

“I hope that we are able to create chances and score goals, just like we have done in recent matches.”

Bayern will be wary of the threat posed by their opponents, against whom they dropped five points last season.

Indeed, the Bavarian giants have won on only two of their last nine league visits to Borussia-Park and will need to improve upon last weekend’s rather lacklustre display against Hertha Berlin if they are maintain their eight-point buffer at the top of the table.

Pep Guardiola’s men were boosted this week by the return to training of Franck Ribery, who has been sidelined since March with a chronic ankle injury.

The France international will not feature this weekend, but could be back in action before the mid-season break.

In further good news for the visitors, Thomas Muller has hinted that he is keen to sign a new contract with and teenage striker Kingsley Coman has insisted that he would prefer to stay at Bayern rather than return to parent club Juventus once his two-year loan deal expires. 

Brazil forward Douglas Costa is a major doubt as he struggles to overcome a thigh problem, while Thiago Alcantara is facing at least a further fortnight on the sidelines after re-injuring his problematic right knee.

For the fourth-placed home side, a thigh injury is expected to rule out Austrian defender Martin Stranzl and, although he has returned to training, the game will come too early for midfielder Ibrahima Traore.

Monchengladbach’s main goal threat will be provided by Brazilian forward Raffael, who has scored six league goals this term, while defender Fabian Johnson will look to continue his unlikely hot streak in front of goal having scored three times in the last two games.

Key Opta stats:

– Borussia Monchengladbach claimed four points from Bayern Munich last term – more than any other Bundesliga side. They were also the only side not to concede a goal against Bayern in 2014-15.

– Bayern have conceded more goals away to Monchengladbach (76) than against any other Bundesliga side. 

– Since Andre Schubert took job, only Bayern (25) have claimed more points than Monchengladbach (23). 

– Monchengladbach have netted 26 Bundesliga goals under Schubert – only Bayern have netted more frequently in that time (27).

– Schubert’s men were bottom after matchday five, but are fourth nine games later – a feat which has never previously been managed. 

Gotze: It would be great if Guardiola stayed at Bayern Munich

Speculation over the coach’s future continues and the midfielder is hopeful that he will sign a new deal in the near future

Bayern Munich midfielder Mario Gotze says he hopes Pep Guardiola will stay with the Bundesliga giants beyond the end of the season, but he remains unsure if he will.

The Spaniard is out of contract at the end of the current campaign and has been heavily linked with a move to Manchester City.

Gotze, currently sidelined with a groin injury, said he had no idea if Guardiola would extend his stay, but he hopes the former Barcelona coach remains in charge.

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“You can’t look into his head. The coach and the club have to decide. It’s difficult to give a prognosis,” he said.

Asked about what made Guardiola, who has led the club to two league titles, so special, Gotze said it was obvious in Bayern’s performances.

“We all saw it. Especially during the last two-and-a-half years,” he said.

“We played successful football and the way that we play suits the team and football itself. A big part of that is because of the coach.

“We would be happy if he stayed. He’s got a philosophy that suits us very well and that’s why it would be a good thing if he stayed.”

Bayern visit fifth-placed Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday looking for a sixth straight win in all competitions.

Gotze said he was intrigued by the clash against what he described as one of the league’s better teams.

“Gladbach are definitely one of the toughest opponents. They always play good football,” he said.

“It will be a tough match, especially away at Borussia Park. But like I said, the team is in good shape. We are on a run. That’s why I hope and think that we will win.”

I snubbed Mourinho to work with Guardiola, says Douglas Costa

The winger insists his move to Bayern Munich has aided his development more than if he had chosen Chelsea as his destination

Douglas Costa says he rejected the chance to join Jose Mourinho at Chelsea in favour of a move to Bayern Munich, as he was more eager to work with Pep Guardiola.

The standout performer for the Bavarians this season was heavily linked with a switch to Stamford Bridge earlier this year, publicly voicing his admiration for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.

However, the former Shakhtar Donetsk star has revealed it did not take him long to make up his mind when the Bundesliga champions joined the race for his signature.

“Chelsea also wanted to sign me. They were seriously interested and made great efforts,” Douglas Costa told Bild.

“But I really only wanted to work with Guardiola and join Bayern.

“I made a conscious decision to join Bayern because of the presence of Guardiola. I was convinced that I would learn more at Bayern under Guardiola.”

The 25-year-old has developed into a key figure at the Allianz Arena, scoring twice and setting up seven more in 12 Bundesliga appearances for die Roten so far.

Ribery in Bayern squad for Gladbach clash

Franck Ribery is set to make his Bayern Munich comeback against Borussia Monchengladbach after a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

Pep Guardiola has included Franck Ribery in his squad for Bayern Munich’s Bundesliga match away against Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday.

The former France international last featured for Bayern in the Champions League win over Shakhtar Donetsk back in March and has since been out of action due to an ankle problem.

Ribery recently resumed training and Guardiola has deemed him fit enough to add him to his squad for this weekend’s encounter.

“The most important thing is that Franck is pain free,” the Bayern coach said at a news conference.

“Ribery laughed all the time on Thursday during training. That is the greatest gift for me as a coach.

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“Of course it will take some time until he is 100 per cent fit again after seven months on the sidelines due to injury.”

Bayern were initially expected not to rush the 32-year-old back into action after his lengthy absence, but they fast-forwarded his comeback after Douglas Costa and Arjen Robben were both ruled out of Saturday’s trip to Gladbach with muscular problems.

Furthermore, the reigning Bundesliga champions will be without David Alaba (ankle), Thiago Alcantara (knee), Juan Bernat (groin) and Mario Gotze (adductor).

Guardiola laughs off Real Madrid link

As the pressure on Rafa Benitez continues to rise despite a vote of confidence, the ex-Barcelona coach has been mooted as a shock replacement

Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola has laughed off suggestions he could replace Rafael Benitez at Real Madrid.

Benitez is under pressure at the Santiago Bernabeu following their 4-0 Clasico humbling by Barcelona last month while speculation persists about a difficult working relationship with a number of the club’s senior players, including Cristiano Ronaldo.

Madrid president Florentino Perez has publicly backed the former Liverpool and Inter boss but rumours persist that his days in the Spanish capital could be numbered.

One name that has been thrown up as a potential replacement is Guardiola, who has yet to commit to extending his Bayern deal that expires at the end of the season and has also been linked with Manchester City and Manchester United.

GOALREAD MORE  | Who are Guardiola’s undroppable players?  

The 44-year-old was quick to dismiss the subject at his Bayern media conference on Friday, however.

He laughed: “No, no, that would not be good. We would not fit together.

“No, there is nothing to report for you journalists.”

Guardiola enjoyed great success with Madrid’s arch-rivals Barca, winning three La Liga titles, two Copa del Rey crowns, two Champions Leagues and two FIFA Club World Cup trophies between 2008 and 2012. He has also been an outspoken supporter of Catalan independence.