Back at the end of the 2010-2011 Hinrunde, Borussia Monchengladbach were mired in last place, accumulating only 10 points after 17 matches. There was no historical precedent for a Bundesliga team so far behind to escape relegation. But the appointment of Lucien Favre as coach on St. Valentine’s Day turned the club’s fortunes around, and today with their 1-1 draw against VfL Bochum, they have survived to play again in the 1. Bundesliga next season. Truly a sporting miracle.
Farve led Gladbach to the 16th berth in the table, the playoff spot, by gaining 26 points in the 11 matches in which he guided the club, including huge consecutive wins over Borussia Dortmund. Hannover 96 and SC Freiburg down the stretch. Still, to complete the miracle, Gladbach had to get past a solid Bochum side in the two legs of the playoff series.
The first leg was played at Borussia Park, with the game looking to end a scoreless draw despite Gladbach’s home-field advantage and superiority in possession, shots taken and corner kicks. But statistics don’t tell the entire story, and Bochum and especially goalkeeper Andreas Luthe played well to keep the game scoreless as the final seconds of stoppage time clicked away. But Gladbach scored on the last play of the contest, as Belgian Igor de Camargo netted the winner from four yards out to eke out the win for the Foals. One more step to complete the miracle.
The second leg was played at rewirpower -Stadion with the Bochum supporters in full voice, knowing that promotion to 1. Bundesliga was very much within their grasp. Bochum took the lead and evened up the aggregate score when an unlucky Havard Nordveit created an own goal following a quality offensive buildup by Bochum in the 24th minute of play, and Bochum seemed to surge in confidence after the goal.
Bochum carried their lead into the second half, with Gladbach looking ever more likely to
score. Cameroonian striker Mohammadou Idrissou used his 6’3″ frame batter away at Bochum’s defense and nearly scored twice on headed balls in the box, and Juan Arango sent in a long, curling ball that almost snuck by Luthe. It looked inevitable that Gladbach would equalize, and surely enough they did, as Marco Reus coolly finished assisted by de Camargo, who had just come on four minutes earlier in Idrissou’s place. The 72nd minute goal completed the day’s scoring, with Bochum turning desperate and frustrated towards the end as their dream of promotion slipped away. Gladbach’s miracle was completed.
Condolences to the Bochum club and its fans for missing promotion by so narrow a margin after a fine 2. Bundesliga season. And congratulations to Borussia Monchengladbach, miracle-worker Lucien Favre, Dante, Marco Reus, Mohammadou Issidrou, de Camargo, Martin Stranzl, Mike Hanke, Havard Nordveit and the rest of the club for such a compelling comeback. As I watched this match end, I couldn’t help but wonder if Gladbach can duplicate Hannover 96’s great success next season and gain European competition.