Record-breaking Bayern Munich tune up for Champions League final

Bayern Munich warmed up for the forthcoming Champions League final with a breath-taking 4-3 win against Borussia Monchengladbach. An impressive comeback win preserved Bayern's unbeaten away record, sealing a remarkable 29th win in 34 outings. Sensationally, this leaves Bayern with just one defeat over the Bundesliga campaign.

Treble-seeking coach Jupp Heynckes selected a full-strength side for his final foray in the Bundesliga on Saturday. Pre-match, it was deemed probable that the starting eleven would also line-up for 'El Teutonico', the all-German Champions League final at Wembley against Borussia Dortmund. The only absentees were long-term injury victims Toni Kroos and Holger Badstuber, as well as the suspended Rafinha. Jerome Boateng was given the nod over the less mobile Daniel van Buyten and might well have won the battle to partner Dante in the centre of defence next Saturday evening in London.

However, with perhaps one eye already on the clash at Wembley, Bayern got off to a nightmare start especially in defence as Heynckes' men conceded two sloppy goals before the capacity Borussia Park crowd had caught their breaths. Ex-1860 Munich defender Martin Stranzl opened the scoring for the hosts, bundling the ball home from close range after just four minutes. Mike Hanke doubled the lead just a minute later, taking advantage of a defensive blackout from Dante, who was on return to his former stomping ground. The Brazilian has been virtually faultless all season but has chosen a particularly poor time to enjoy a crisis of confidence.
When Spaniard Javier Martinez reduced the arrears a couple of minutes later, slotting home after a slide pass from Franck Ribery, you might have thought normal order would soon be restored. But Borussia, who hadn't lost at home in five games against Bayern, had other ideas and soon restored the two-goal margin through Norwegian midfielder Havard Nordtveit's strike.

Before the game, Bayern had conceded a lowly 15 goals all season in the Bundesliga so to concede three in the opening ten minutes was somewhat of a mystery.

Bayern again cut the deficit to 2-3 through Ribery on 18 minutes as Bayern finally began to settle into their stride though. The visitors then went close to a first-half equaliser through skipper Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller as Gladbach began to feel the full force of the runaway champions.

However, the tide had long since turned in the Reds favour and it was absolutely no surprise when Bayern bagged an equaliser. Ribery's supreme, first-time volley left Ter Stegen grasping thin air on 53 minutes. Chapeau.

Dutch winger Arjen Robben completed a confidence-boosting comeback, putting the Bavarians ahead for the first time (4-3) after Ribery picked out his wing colleague unmarked at the back post.

It was a fitting tribute for outgoing Bayern coach Heynckes, as he brought down the final curtain on his Bundesliga career. He couldn't contain his emotions as he broke down in tears at the post-match press conference.

'Don Jupp' had gone full-circle to Gladbach - where it all began in 1965 as a 19-year-old striker with a brace of goals for 'The Foals' against Tasmania Berlin. The 68-year-old can look fondly back on an amazing 48-year career, racking up a remarkable 1,011 matches. This tally includes 369 outings as a potent striker with today's opponents Borussia and Hanover 96, before his career was curtailed by knee problems.

Heynckes commenced his illustrious coaching career in 1979, and is arguably one of the most decorated and durable coaches in German footballing history. The recent romp to the Bundesliga title was Heynckes' third with the Reds, but a first for 23 years.

Although Heynckes is saying 'Auf Wiedersehen' to the Bundesliga in the summer, don't be surprised to see him pop up in somewhat warmer climes, having already coached in Spain and Portugal.

As Wembley beckons, Dortmund meekly succumbed to relegation-haunted Hoffenheim, but the Bavarian bandwagon shows no immediate sign of slowing down on the pitch. With the all-conquering, record German champions Bayern just two games away from an unprecedented treble-winning season (German League, German Cup and Champions League), there is seemingly no stopping them.

Borussia Mönchengladbach: ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl, Brouwers, Wendt - Nordtveit, Xhaka - Herrmann (77' Younes), Arango - Hrgota (65' Rupp), Hanke (84' de Jong)

FC Bayern Munich: Neuer - Lahm, Boateng, Dante, Alaba - Javi Martinez, Schweinsteiger - Ribery, Müller (81' Pizarro), Robben (81' Shaqiri) - Mandzukic (75' Gomez)

Goals: 1-0 Stranzl (4'), 2-0 Hanke (5'), 2-1 Martinez (7'), 3-1 Nordtveit (10'), 3-2 Ribery (18'), 3-3 Ribery (53'), 3-4 Robben (59')

Attendance: 54,010
Referee: Thorsten Kinhöfer


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