By Karolos Grohmann
BERLIN (Reuters) – Unbeaten in the Bundesliga and enjoying a record start to the season, champions Bayern Munich are faced with their toughest domestic challenge yet when they take on in-form Borussia Moenchengladbach on Saturday.
The Bavarians, having won 13 out of 14 league matches so far for the best start of a season, are already eight points clear at the top of the table and are on track for a record-breaking fourth consecutive Bundesliga title.
They have scored a staggering 42 goals so far despite missing several players through injury and have let in just five in 14 matches, three times less than the second-best defensive team that is VfL Wolfsburg.
But Saturday’s game could prove tricky with Gladbach enjoying a sensational run under coach Andre Schubert.
The 44-year-old took over after the team’s opening five-game losing run and oversaw their sharp climb up the table from 18th to fourth with seven wins and two draws from their nine games under the new coach, just two points less than Bayern earned over the same period.
Their sparkling attacking game has seen them beat Bundesliga heavyweights Wolfsburg and Schalke 04 among others as well as drawing twice with Juventus and also scoring their first Champions League victory over Sevilla.
“If you want to earn a point or even beat Bayern Munich then you have to defend in a smart way,” Gladbach defender Havard Nordtveit said.
“A lot of teams try to do that by playing very defensively but that does not always work because Bayern will eventually find their space.”
“We will most certainly not only focus on defence and we will play up front. We should be operating like we have been doing in the past games, play with risk but also with brains,” said the versatile defender, who has also been deployed in midfield as Schubert shuffled positions.
Scoring goals is not a problem for Gladbach these days with Schubert’s team netting 17 times in their past six league games alone.
Bayern may not have fit-again winger Franck Ribery back in time for the game even though the Frenchman returned to team training this week after an eight-month injury absence.
But Pep Guardiola will have an otherwise full squad to pick from as they look to secure top spot for the winter break later this month with at least a point from the game.
“Securing the autumn title would be a nice side effect if we win,” said Bayern’s Thomas Mueller, who has scored 13 goals.
“For me personally the autumn title is not that important. What is important is that we are at the top in May.”
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)