The Bundesliga restarted after the Winterbreak on Friday night with a stunner. Borussia M’gladbach upended the leaders Bayern München 3-1. The Gladbachers thus accomplished a rare feat, a double over Bayern.
Despite a great performance by Gladbach, the deciding moment in front of a sold out Borussia-Park (55,000) happened after only 10 minutes. And it was a howler. Bayern’s GK Manuel Neuer is a world class keeper, but he’s also a bit of a prima-donna dumbass. I noticed that when he was at Schalke, brilliant reflexes and positioning, but every now and then something stupid because he thinks he’s more clever than anybody else. And like Roger Milla giving Rene Higuita his due in the World Cup, it was Gladbach’s star Marco Reus who supplied Neuer’s comeuppance. Basically, Holger Badstuber sent over an easy back pass to Neuer, and the whole stadium expected Neuer to boom it down field. Instead he out clevered himself, kicked the ball straight to Reus, who quickly shot into the open net from 32 meters…
Bayern reacted with fierce attacks, but Gladbach held tight. Then another rising star, Patrick Hermann, notched a couple of goals after sleek passes from Mike Hanke and Reus. Bayern got a consolation goal from the returned Bastian Schweinsteiger, but it was way too late. Certainly this has to be a shock for coach Jupp Heynckes, as Bayern had a good winter break training, with only nutcase Breno having any problems. (He was banned from training since burning down his house, then he went out and got tatoos despite express orders from his doctor.) Bayern did miss Frank Rbery on card suspension, but they would have still expected to win this match.
So only one game played on restart, and the Bundesliga is on fire already. Bayern will remain in 1st on goal difference, but both Schalke and Dortmund could catch them on points with victories: Schalke will be favored at home to Stuttgart, but Dortmund has a tough challenge against a somewhat revived HSV in Hamburg.
Gladbach is only a point behind Bayern, and this performance could spill over to another excellent run in the 2nd half. I’d been expecting them to start falling off, but they’ve held on beyond all expectations. Despite Marco Reus signing with Dortmund in the summer, he had a superb performance, and fans have to be thrilled with the play of Patrick Hermann, touted by some as Reus’ heir-apparent.