Bayern out to deflate rivals' title hopes
Bavarian giants Bayern Munich are out to extend their run-away lead in the Bundesliga at Borussia Moenchengladbach on Friday to further diminish their rivals' hopes of catching them.
Bayern are on a record 41-match unbeaten league run and travel to third-placed 'Gladbach with a seven-point lead as the German top flight resumes after the traditional winter break.
The Bavarian giants face three league games in ten days as they tackle VfB Stuttgart on Wednesday in a postponed fixture, then host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday February 2.
The aim for the Bavarians now is to produce another eye-catching performance to dispirit the chasing pack.
"We must show the competition that there is nothing to pick up in terms of points," said Germany forward Thomas Mueller.
"We mustn't show any weak points and give rise to any hope.
"We can't go half-hearted into these games, the supposedly mighty FC Bayern won't be given any favours."
Bayern's thirst for titles is unsatiable at present having added the Club World Cup in December to August's UEFA Super Cup title after last season's treble of European, league and domestic cup titles.
But Pep Guardiola's team were given a wake-up call in a friendly last Saturday when hosts Red Bull Salzburg inflicted a 3-0 defeat on Bayern, which set off a few "alarm bells", according to Mueller.
"We need to get out of holiday mode," said the 24-year-old as the Bundesliga returns after a four-week break.
"Gladbach will want to take something out of this.
"If an opponent is aggressive and doesn't crap their pants, then we can also have a few problems to deal with."
Gladbach usurped Borussia Dortmund from third place in the league with a strong finish to 2013.
Borussia Park has uncomfortable memories for Bayern who lost 3-1 there in January 2012, having also gone to Gladbach as league leaders, and they had to fight back from 3-1 down in May before sealing a 4-3 win.
"It will be a hotly-contested game, if we aren't focused, there will be a result like there was in Salzburg," said Bayern's ex-Gladbach defender Dante.
Dortmund, who are down to fourth place, need to break a three-match losing streak in the league at home when they host Augsburg on Saturday.
Bayern, Leverkusen and Hertha Berlin all enjoyed wins at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion towards the end of the year and coach Jurgen Klopp's side enjoyed a 6-1 friendly drubbing of minnows Duisburg on Tuesday.
Klopp will still be without the injured trio of midfielder Ilkay Gundogan (back), plus defenders Mats Hummels (ankle) and Neven Subotic (knee).
Second-placed Bayer Leverkusen will also want to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat at Werder Bremen in December when they travel to face third-from-bottom Freiburg on Saturday.
Borusia Moenchengladbach v Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund v Augsburg, VfB Stuttgart v Mainz 05, VfL Wolfsburg v Hanover 96, Nuremberg v Hoffenheim, Freiburg v Bayer Leverkusen, Eintracht Frankfurt v Hertha Berlin
Werder Bremen v Eintracht Braunschweig, Hamburg v Schalke 04