By Karolos Grohmann
(Reuters) – Borussia Moenchengladbach trying to bring down the mighty Bayern Munich after years of Bavarian dominance might sound like a line from a 1970s German football almanac but that will be the case on Saturday when the two sides meet in the league.
For decades-long roles have been reversed this season, with the ‘Foals’ of Gladbach galloping away at the top of the standings while Bayern struggle to keep pace.
For younger German football fans this is a completely new experience but more seasoned fans could draw parallels to some 45 years ago when Bayern, in the midst of their three consecutive European Cup wins, lost their domestic crown to a sensational Gladbach team.
Gladbach won five of eight league titles between 1970 and 1977, including three straight from 1975-77.
Bayern have again become the most powerful force in German football, having won seven consecutive league titles starting back in 2013 but their opponents are enjoying a scintillating campaign.
After decades stuck mid-table or even lower, Gladbach are top of the heap on 28 points, four ahead of fourth-placed Bayern, and closing in on the unofficial autumn champions title with the winter break coming later this month.
Gladbach forward Alassane Plea said felling Bayern would mean so much.
“Bayern are a big club with countless successes,” he said this week. “They have won the league title almost every season in the past years and play without interruption in the Champions League.
“They have top players and are arguably the strongest team in the league. That is why we really want to win that game.”
Plea has formed a formidable partnership with fellow Frenchman Marcus Thuram and Swiss international Breel Embolo, scoring four goals and recording four assists.
Thuram has contributed six goals while Embolo, who struggled for a starting spot at Schalke 04, has five.
“The fact that we are still league leaders shows how good we have been working and how good a season we have been playing,” Plea added. “We have a great team … and we are currently in just very good form.”
The Bavarians will be feeling the heat, having suffered a shock 2-1 home loss to Bayer Leverkusen last week, their first defeat under interim coach Hansi Flick.
Another loss would see them drop further behind in the title race and put Flick’s future at the club in doubt.
Second-placed RB Leipzig, on 27 points, host Hoffenheim, while Schalke 04, a further two points behind in third, travel to Leverkusen.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)