How did you spend your Christmas vacation? While English Premier League teams were playing two and three games a week during the cold and wet of December and January, German Bundesliga teams were training in the warm sunshine of Turkey, Spain and Qatar. With some warm-up friendlies under their belts, teams are ready to start the Rueckrunde, or second leg of the season, on Friday with a marquee match.
Table-toppers Bayern Munich face a tough test from the start when they travel to third-place Borussia Monchengladbach (2:30 p.m. ET). Eleven points separate the two teams, but traveling to the Rhineland will be no easy task for Der FCB.
In August, Bayern coach Pep Guardiola got his first Bundesliga win, a difficult 3-1 victory, against the Foals and his club will hope to reprise the result this time around.
Bayern carries a 41-game winning streak in the league, earning 44 of 48 points, only dropping points away from the Allianz Arena. Gladbach have only failed to collect two points at home all season, in the last game of 2013 when they drew against Wolfsburg.
Exactly two years ago, in the opening game of the second round, fourth place Gladbach earned a home victory against first place Bayern. Can history repeat?
Gladbach has a coveted goalkeeper in Marc-Andre ter Stegen, eyed by Barcelona as a Victor Valdes replacement, and a talented attack that includes rising star Max Kruse (8 goals) and Dutch dynamo Luuk de Jong.
Led by Ballon d’Or finalist Franck Ribery, Bayern’s Starting XI has some of the best players in the world. Still, Kruse believes they can compete with the Bavarian giants. “We want to be the first team to beat Bayern.” If Bayern is to lose one game in the league this season, this could be the one.
The Bundesliga returns to action in earnest on Saturday with six games on the slate.