Borussia Mönchengladbach outplayed Wolfsburg in all departments and put on one of the best collective performance of any team so far in the 2011/12 season.
Going by the stats from the first two matches of the season the fans could not be blamed for expecting a goalless evening devoid of any real attacking football. Gladbach had so far scored one goal in each of matches, while Wolfsburg lost their last encounter against Bayern 1-0 after defeating Köln 3-0. Gladbach were undefeated in the 6 Bundesliga matches going into the match and had not conceded more than one goal since they met Wolfsburg in their run in of the last campaign. Lucien Favre was additionally dealing with the suspension of Rob Brouwers and not being able to relay on an injured Igor de Carmargo.
Borussia Mönchengladbach: ter Stegen – Jantschke, Nordtveit, Dante, Daems – Marx, Neustädter – Reus(Herrmann 88’), Arango – Bobadilla(Leckie 81’), Hanke(King 86’)
VfL Wolfsburg: Benaglio – Salihamidzic, Kjaer, Russ, Schäfer – Hasebe, Träsch, Josué (Knoche 84’), Hitzlsperger – Mandzukic, Helmes
First half: Oh Kjær, what happened there?
The Danish word ”Kjær” can at times be translated as ”dear”, and one has certainly got to ask the Wolfsburg defender ”Oh Kjær(dear) what happened on Gladbach’s first goal?” Wolfsburg were at this point of the match already 1-0 up after Hasabe, who played behind the strikers instead of right back this time, managed to slot home a beautiful strike from outside the 16 yard box after an exquisite lay-off by Christian Träsch in the 13th minute. Only two minutes later, Dane Simon Kjær was in possession just outside Wolfsburg’s 16 yard box, looking for the right pass, but somehow managed to lose his footing and slipped. Nearby Raul Bobadilla snapped up the ball, stormed goalwards and laid the ball up to the oncoming Marco Reus when Wolfsburg keeper Diego Benaglio stormed out. All Reus needed to do was to put the ball into the empty net to make it 1-1.
Gladbach’s equalizer seemed to somehow spur on ”The Foals”, who dominated the rest of the half with ease. Wolfsburg Christian Träsch was often caught upfield, while Thomas Hitzelsberger didn’t seem to have the impact Magath had expected from him on his debut after just one training session with the side since officially signing. The Wolfsburg coach was also forced to take off Hasan Salihamidzic after just 16 minutes due to an injury. The Bosnian who played at right back this time was replaced by Michael Schulze.
Lucien Favre cleverly reacted to that change by switching Marco Reus from the right flank to the left, and moving Juan Arango the other way.
This manuever yielded results 9 minutes later. Schulze found himself alone with Reus in the 16 yard box. Reus managed to get the ball past Schulze and was on his way towards goal when the 22-year-old clumsily challenged Reus and gave away a penalty. The spot kick was converted by Gladbach captain Fillip Daems, who now is 9 out of 9 when it comes to penalty kicks taken in the Bundesliga.
Overall, Gladbach outran and outpasssed Wolfsburg for the remainder of the first half and did not let up on the increasingly shaky Wolfsburg. ”The Foals” were rewarded for their efforts just before half time, when the unmarked Raul Bobadilla headed home a corner from 1 meter in front of goal after a corner kick.
Second half: More of the same
Rather than sitting on their lead, Gladbach came out all guns blazing in the second half. The Foals managed to produce chances en masse, but were either denied by an in form Benaglio (50th and 52nd minute), or the goal post (53rd minute). However, Benaglio did not stand a chance when Gladbach managed to put together one of the most beautiful moves of the game in the 67th minute: Christian Neustädter found Juan Arango on the right hand side. The Venezuelan took a brief look, and saw a rapidly advancing Marco Reus. A beautiful cross into the box with the outside of his foot landed on Reus’s foot, and the Gladbach star managed to fight off Michael Schulze once more and put the ball into the net past Diego Benaglio like a veteran striker.
Wolfsburg did manage to produce one more chance before the game ended. Patrick Helmes had a shot saved by Marck-Andre ter Stegen in the 80th minute with a volley from 14 yards but it was a little too late for Magath’s men.
Gladbach’s midfielders and forwards ran more than 75 kilometers during the match. Marco Reus came in at 11.4 km, and Mike Hanke just behind him with 11.2 km. Combined with Gladbach’s short and precise passing game (more than 85% of Gladbach’s passes found their target, while Wolfsburg only managed to get 72% on target) and the Foals ability to make Wolfsburg chase the ball (Gladbach had more than 62% of the possession), one has to say that this was a near flawless performance by Gladbach.
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