Bayern Munich look sensational in Bundesliga demolition of Gladbach
Niko Kovac starting to get things right
Monchengladbach 1 Bayern Munich 5
Stindl 37 Martinez 2, Muller 11
Lewandowski 47, 90 pen
The story of the match
This was an absolute demolition job by Bayern Munich against their supposed bogey side and easily their best performance since coach Niko Kovac joined last summer.
Bayern bashed 14 shots on target and their expected-goals rating was more than five on some maps, even excluding the penalty, with Gladbach's goalkeeper Yann Sommer putting in a performance which arguably deserved the man-of-the-match award.
Robert Lewandowski was denied by Sommer in the opening 30 seconds but from the resulting corner Javi Martinez put Bayern ahead and that advantage was doubled shortly afterwards with Serge Gnabry assisting Thomas Muller.
Sommer saved one-on-one situations against Lewandowski and Gnabry as Bayern threatened to run riot, only for Gladbach to get back into the game when a terrific Thorgan Hazard pass put in false nine Lars Stindl to beat Manuel Neuer at his near post.
Martinez still had time to go close again for Bayern in the first period, although Kovac's side did not have to wait long for their third with Lewandowski's excellent touch and finish rounding off a lovely Thiago Alcantara through-pass after 47 minutes.
That was Bayern's second chance of the half with James Rodriguez having fired wide almost from kick-off and, apart from an off-target effort from Denis Zakaria, it was a stroll for Bayern.
Sommer produced top saves from Lewandowski and Gnabry before the former Arsenal winger finally found a way past the home goalie.
Lewandowski rounded off the scoring from the penalty spot in injury-time following a foul on Joshua Kimmich.
On paper it's a 4-2-3-1 formation but Bayern pressed high up the pitch with Rodriguez almost alongside Lewandowski at times to make it a 4-4-2.
Bayern's press worked a treat and on a number of occasions they managed to nick the ball in dangerous areas with a number of players in advanced positions to take advantage of the turnovers.
There was also good control to their possession, although as is usually the case in such one-sided contests it can be difficult to judge whether Bayern were brilliant or Gladbach dreadful.
Gnabry, Martinez and Thiago stood out. Gnabry gives Bayern a sense of directness and pace, while he is not afraid to take any available shooting opportunities and that burst of energy enables Munich to be a little less predictable.
Martinez and Thiago were the two who helped Bayern dominate midfield. Thiago made 104 accurate passes and three of Bayern's four defeats this season have come when Martinez did not start.
Gladbach went forward with purpose just once and scored as Bayern centre-backs Niklas Sule and Jerome Boateng were caught out out by a pass in behind them.
It's a problem position for Bayern with Boateng and Mats Hummels (along with Muller) told this week that they are no longer in Joachim Low's plans for the German national team.
Lewandowski's double took him to 15 in the Bundesliga this season, but that is still around eight short of his expected-goals figure, so is he just unlucky or one of the most wasteful finishers in European football?
The chances are that he will soon start bagging plenty - he had eight shots in this match which was five more than anyone else - but the Polish hitman usually goes off at prohibitive odds in the goalscorer markets given Bayern's predicted dominance.
Gnabry showed up well enough to suggest he could finish the season strongly.
View from the camp
Kovac said: "I'm very happy with how we played. We should have scored one or two more, but that was still our best Bundesliga performance this season.
"We let the ball do the work and were able to nullify Borussia’s strengths with our quick breaks and forward passing. You can’t take it for granted beating Borussia 5-1. Based on the chances we missed, we could have ended the day top of the league."
Kovac was referring to the fact Bayern trail Dortmund by three goals but the fact they have already whittled the league advantage down to just goal difference suggests the champions will claim the title.
Of more interest will be their upcoming Champions League tussle with Liverpool, which is delicately poised after a 0-0 draw at Anfield.
The best bet could be goals in the second game. Liverpool should create chances against the Bayern back four, but there is a renewed slickness about the German giants. The qualification battle is not far off being a true 50-50.
Gladbach were flattered to lose 5-1, but Bayern are not typical standard for a Bundesliga side so there will be easier opportunities for them to secure points. However, they look vulnerable for a top-four finish after conceding 11 goals in their last three home games.
Monchengladbach 4-1-4-1: Sommer; Lang (Johnson 76), Ginter, Elvedi, Wendt; Kramer; Plea, Neuhaus (Zakaria 65), Hofmann (Raffael 72), Hazard; Stindl.
Bayern: 4-2-3-1: Neuer; Kimmich, Sule, Boateng, Rafinha; Martinez, Thiago; Muller (Jeong 86), Rodriguez (Sanches 80), Gnabry (Davies 83); Lewandowski.
Next three fixtures
Monchengladbach: Mainz (a), Freiburg (h), F Dusseldorf (a).
Bayern Munich: Wolfsburg (h), Liverpool (h), Mainz (h).
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