Bayern Munich will be bidding to make it eight straight wins in all competitions when they resume their 2021-22 Bundesliga campaign at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on Friday night.
The home side are currently top of the Bundesliga table, nine points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, while Monchengladbach occupy 14th spot, having struggled for consistency this season.
Bayern will be missing a number of important players for this match, but it is still very difficult to imagine anything other than a home victory, especially considering Monchengladbach's recent issues, so we are expecting a routine 2-0 success for the Bundesliga champions, who are pulling clear at the summit.
Since suffering a surprise 2-1 defeat at Augsburg in the Bundesliga on November 19, Bayern's form has been excellent, winning seven matches across two separate competitions, which allowed them to secure a perfect record in their Champions League group and pull clear at the top of the Bundesliga table.
Julian Nagelsmann's side have posted five straight Bundesliga victories, scoring nine and conceding zero in their last two matches against Stuttgart and Wolfsburg, which has left them top of the table, boasting 43 points from their opening 17 matches of the 2021-22 campaign.
There is now a nine-point gap from Bayern to second-placed Dortmund, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to imagine the reigning champions not finishing at the summit once again.
Der FCB have lifted the Bundesliga title in each of the last nine seasons and will have the chance to move 12 points clear on Friday, as Dortmund are not in action until Saturday evening, facing a trip to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Bayern will also be looking to battle for a seventh European Cup this season, and Robert Lewandowski is enjoying another excellent campaign for the club, finding the back of the net on 30 occasions in 25 appearances in all competitions, including 19 in 17 outings in Germany's top flight.
Monchengladbach, meanwhile, have not finished lower than ninth in the Bundesliga since 2011, claiming fifth and fourth in two of their last three seasons, but they have struggled for consistency this term.
Indeed, a record of five wins, four draws and eight defeats from 17 matches has brought them 19 points, which is only enough for 14th spot in the table, just two points clear of 16th-placed Stuttgart.
Adi Hutter's side lost four straight league games to FC Koln, Freiburg, RB Leipzig and Frankfurt between November 27 and December 15 before claiming a point in a 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim before the winter break.
Monchengladbach are without a victory in Germany's top flight since beating Greuther Furth on November 20, and they are now nine points off the top four in the Bundesliga, which is a big gap to make up, even with a lot of football still to play before the end of the 2021-22 campaign.
Bayern have serious coronavirus issues ahead of their return to action, with Lucas Hernandez, Tanguy Nianzou, Manuel Neuer, Kingsley Coman, Corentin Tolisso, Leroy Sane, Dayot Upamecano and Omar Richards all testing positive for the virus.
Joshua Kimmich has returned to full training after recovering from his COVID-19 infection, while the club are hopeful that Leon Goretzka will be available to return from a foot injury, but Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Josip Stanisic remain on the sidelines.
Bayern's squad will therefore be stretched for Friday's fixture, but the likes of Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and Lewandowski are available, while the team's issues at the back could see Benjamin Pavard feature in the middle, with the returning Kimmich at right-back.
As for Monchengladbach, Jordan Beyer and Jonas Hofmann will miss the match through injury, while Mamadou Doucoure, Joe Scally, Keanan Bennetts and Denis Zakaria have tested positive for coronavirus.
Breel Embolo scored in the 1-1 draw with Hoffenheim before the winter break and will again lead the line for the visitors, while Marcus Thuram and Patrick Herrmann should also retain their spots in the forward areas.
Matthias Ginter will leave the club on a free transfer this summer but will again feature in the middle of the defence, while Scally's absence should open the door for 18-year-old Luca Netz to start.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup:
Ulreich; Kimmich, Pavard, Sule, Davies; Goretzka, Sabitzer; Gnabry, Muller, Musiala; Lewandowski
Borussia Monchengladbach possible starting lineup:
Sommer; Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Netz; Kramer, Stindl, Kone; Herrmann, Embolo, Thuram