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Ahead of Friday's clash, Goal.com takes an in-depth look at the key players and exactly what is on the line for each team

ANALYSIS
By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor

As the Bundesliga kicks off the 2012 calendar year, there could be no more relevant a match than Borussia Monchengladbach against Bayern Munich.

The temperature dropped in Germany during the winter break, but things heated up between the Bavarians and Marco Reus after the Gladbach star confirmed his summer move to Borussia Dortmund.

The 22-year-old was in exceptional form during the first half of the season, leading his side - who only avoided relegation last May due to victory in a play-off - to an improbable mid-season position of fourth in the Bundesliga table. There have been bitter words from the Munich camp over the last few weeks, but the Germany international has kept his cool, stating: “We’ll see them on the pitch.”

REUS v MULLER



May 31, 1989
DATE OF BIRTH
September 13, 1989
15 APPEARANCES* 17
10
GOALS
2
4
ASSISTS
7
FORM IN FIRST ROUND
*All stats Bundesliga only    

Reus will of course be highly motivated to punish his opponents for their assertions that he took the easy route in joining BVB, but he will not be the only one. Thomas Muller enters the second half of the campaign with something to prove: the versatile attacker scored just twice in the first round, and was last on target in September. Rumours have recently surfaced that the 22-year-old is unhappy with his continued rotation across the Bayern attack, and that the team management have criticised him behind closed doors for allegedly giving more effort for Germany than the club. But Muller has proven his class time and time again in the past, and after a strong string of performances in pre-season friendlies, is raring to take his chances in 2012.

The other big head-to-head on Friday will be that of goalkeepers Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Manuel Neuer. The Bayern man is an undisputed world-class shot-stopper, and in December, Italy legend Gianluigi Buffon opined that Neuer indeed is the best in the game. The former Schalke man went 1147 minutes without conceding during the first half of the season, and in all competitions has conceded just 15 times: his rate of 0.58 goals allowed per game is the lowest among all goalkeepers in Europe’s top leagues.

TER STEGEN v NEUER



April 30, 1992
DATE OF BIRTH
March 27, 1986
17 APPEARANCES* 17
7 CLEAN SHEETS 10
29 CROSSES CLAIMED 9
14 CORNERS CLAIMED 4
64 SHOTS ON GOAL
38
11
GOALS CONCEDED
10
82.81
SAVE %
73.68
FORM IN FIRST ROUND
*All stats Bundesliga only    

But the 19-year-old Ter Stegen is rapidly gaining a reputation as one of Germany’s best goalkeepers, and his performance in the first round earned him a spot in Goal.com’s Bundesliga Team of the Season in December. He has had far more attempts on target to deal with, and to his credit, has only allowed one more goal than Neuer. He is not yet at the level of the Germany number one, but if ex-Bayern goalkeeper Thomas Kraft is to be believed, might one day surpass the 25-year-old. Friday’s match of course could provide a real boost in his confidence and credentials.

Heading into the game, the onus is on Bayern to take the spoils. The record champions have the league’s best record away from home, and if they aspire to contend for a treble, will have to hit the ground running. It will not be easy, though: Lucien Favre’s team won the season opener between the two sides, and the Bavarians have drawn their last four games at the Borussia Park, and last won in Gladbach in January of 2006.

History has little value in Germany, though, and the only thing that will matter as the teams take to the pitch on Friday is the game on hand. An exciting second round awaits, and there could be no better way for it to begin.

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