The 2013-14 Bundesliga campaign gets back underway this weekend, with runaway league leaders Bayern Munich travelling to North Rhine-Westphalia on Friday evening looking to topple Borussia Moenchengladbach.
The winter break will undoubtedly have left both clubs feeling refreshed, but Lucien Favre's men have a tough task in surmounting the side that beat them 3-1 on the opening day of the season.
That being said, the neutral viewer couldn't ask for a much better welcome back to the German calendar, a clash between two of the Bundesliga's top four promising to whet the appetite for the rest of this week's proceedings.
Date: Friday, Jan. 24
Time: 7:30 p.m. GMT/2:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Borussia-Park, Moenchengladbach
Viewing Info: BT Sport 2 (UK), Sky Bundesliga 1 (GER), Sky Calcio 1 (ITA)
Stream: BT Sport app
Both clubs played three friendly matches over the course of their festive break, and the Foals will take subtle comfort in knowing they managed to go unbeaten in their fitness tests, while Bayern could only muster two wins from three.
Of course, those results count for close to nought, but Pep Guardiola's experimental lineup nonetheless failed to produce the goods in a 3-0 loss to Red Bull Salzburg last Saturday (Jan. 18).
The only record the Spaniard will be paying any attention to is the competitive slate, however, where a 3-2 loss to Manchester City in Europe is the only match Bayern have failed to take three points from in their last 10 outings.
Gladbach have a similar run of form in that they've only lost one of their last 10, although two draws in their last two league games don't make for particularly encouraging material.
Key Players to Watch
Borussia Moenchengladbach: Raffael
Bayern Munich's defence is currently the best of any club in Europe's top five divisions, conceding just eight goals in total this term.
However, if there were any German setting capable of breaking that resistance this weekend, it's Borussia-Park, housing the strongest home attack in the Bundesliga.
Gladbach are yet to fail to score in a home league match this season, and a lot of that has been down to the hard work of summer acquisitions Max Kruse and Raffael.
The latter of those two has scored nine league goals since moving from Dynamo Kiev six months ago, per Transfermarkt, and Raffael will need extra attention if Bayern are to silence their foes.
Bayern Munich: Manuel Neuer
Just as Borussia Moenchengladbach have the most impressive home attack in the league, Guardiola's men happen to boast the stingiest defence irrespective of where they've played this term.
Unbeaten in their last 26 away league matches, Bayern will once again look to Manuel Neuer for a calming presence in between the posts.
Die Roten's No. 1 was recently elected to the 2013 FIFPro XI, and his first real test after being bestowed such an honour will be to keep a clean sheet in tense circumstances.
With Favre's side just two places behind Bayern in the league, there is a very real threat that Bayern won't come out with all three points this weekend, but Neuer's performance is sure to directly influence those chances.
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