Bayern Munich’s defence of their Bundesliga crown begins on Friday evening with a trip to Borussia Monchengladbach in the inaugural game of the 2021-22 season.
Both sides enter the new campaign with new men in control of the reins, as Adi Hutter and Julian Nagelsmann both seek to get off on the right foot in competitive action.
Bigger things may have come calling for Marco Rose in the form of Borussia Dortmund, but former Eintracht Frankfurt coach Hutter oversaw a relatively successful pre-season period with Monchengladbach, which included a 2-0 win over Bayern just two weeks ago.
Die Fohlen also saw off Metz and Groningen in their exhibition period before opening their competitive campaign against Kaiserslautern in the first round of the DFB-Pokal on Monday, where an 11th-minute winner from talisman Lars Stindl saw Monchengladbach to a 1-0 success.
Starting the season as he means to go on, 32-year-old Stindl proved both his goalscoring and playmaking prowess with 14 goals and 10 assists in 30 Bundesliga games last season, and the versatile attacker will undoubtedly need to keep his shooting boots fresh in order to fire Monchengladbach back into Europe this term.
A dismal run of Bundesliga form between January and March all but killed off Die Fohlen’s hopes of a second consecutive stint in the Champions League – with their poor fortunes starting around the time that Rose was confirmed to be taking the Dortmund job – and three defeats from their final five games saw them finish eighth and miss out on Europe entirely.
A sense of managerial stability therefore ought to prove priceless in Monchengladbach’s bid to break back into the top four – no mean feat indeed – and the hosts have only failed to score in one of their last three 33 Bundesliga games on home soil before a daunting visit of the perennial champions.
Having won everything that was there to be won during his short-lived spell as Bayern manager, Hansi Flick has since swapped league action for international dugouts after being appointed Joachim Low’s successor for the German national team.
Still a managerial rookie at just 34 years of age, Julian Nagelsmann said no to Tottenham Hotspur and yes to Bayern Munich, but with a whole host of international stars missing a good chunk of pre-season, early results have not gone in the former RB Leipzig coach’s favour.
Indeed, the 31-time German champions – now seeking their 10th consecutive crown – suffered pre-season defeats to Monchengladbach, Napoli and Koln while also playing out a 2-2 draw with Ajax, with their makeshift youthful defence conceding 10 goals over their four exhibition games.
Nagelsmann was due to kick off his competitive Bayern career against Bremer SV in the DFB-Pokal before the tie was postponed due to a coronavirus outbreak at the fifth-tier club, so Friday’s tie represents the Bavarians’ only ‘warm-up’ game before next week’s Super Cup tie versus Dortmund.
While a 2-0 defeat to Monchengladbach in pre-season is hardly a good indicator of how the campaign will pan out, Bayern only took one point from their final two away games last term and shipped at least two goals in each of their final three encounters on the road, so a shock result to open the new season is certainly not off the cards.
Borussia Monchengladbach form (all competitions):
Bayern Munich pre-season form: