In Hamburg’s meeting against Bayern Munich a couple of weeks ago, they were accused of having the referee on their side by Uli Hoeness following what he considered some questionable decisions. But against Gladbach, no such claims can be made after Thorsten Fink’s men put in a great second half performance to walk out of Borussia Park with a well earned point.
Unlike Gladbach’s last couple of games, this one got off to a very quiet start. In a first half with very little action, Mike Hanke managed to put The Foals ahead in the dying moments of the half. After the break, Hamburg came back onto the field looking a different team. Fink was rightfully rewarded for his motivational half-time talk as Tolgay Arslan pulled Hamburg level. Chances were hard to come by from then on as both teams were fairly comfortable just sitting back and maintaining possession. The draw seems like the most fair result in what proved to be a fairly subdued affair. Hamburg maintained their fine away form while Gladbach remain unbeaten at home this season.
Line ups and Tactics
Lucien Favre was without the services of just one player, Patrick Herrmann. The 21-year-old midfielder was replaced by Igor De Camargo. Favre had to alter the look of his attack due to Herrmann’s absence as De Camargo now played up front with Hanke and Reus was back out on the right as he had been at the beginning of the season. Martin Stranzl returned from injury, but was left on the bench as Roel Brouwers continued to partner Dante in the center of defence. The rest of the lineup remained unchanged from Gladbach’s game against Kaiserslautern last week.
Minutes before the start of the game, Hamburg were dealt a big blow as Mladen Petric was forced out of the game due to injury. Fink replaced Petric with the German born Turkish U-21 international Tolgay Arslan. Hamburg’s midfield and defence remained unchanged from their Nordderby loss last week. With Fink fielding his staple 4-4-2, a huge onus was placed on central midfielders, David Jarolim and Tomás Rincón, to nullify Gladbach’s counters.
A tactical struggle
The game started off on a very dull note. Neither squad was able to find their way into the game as Hamburg seemed the more lively of the two. Gladbach were comfortable with soaking up the minimal pressure that Hamburg’s attack applied. Youngster Tolgay Arslan had a weak shot saved by ter Stegen in the first 15 minutes and this was the only chance during this period.
Gladbach began to find their way back into the game as Juan Arango worked tirelessly down the left flank. Favre’s men got a great chance in the 21st minute when Brouwers latched onto a corner, only to see his shot cleared off the line. This was a signal of intent from Gladbach as they continued to press Hamburg’s high line of defence. A couple of minutes later, Jaroslav Drobny saw Arango’s shot fizz his post. The best chance of the game fell to Igor De Camargo, who ended up scuffing his shot. The chance was created by Roman Neustädter’s delightful pass which found De Camargo one-on-one with Drobny. This poorly hit shot perfectly described the Belgian’s night.
Gladbach were looking the more dominant side but their inefficiency in front of goal was getting to their heads. Marco Reus was penalized for allegedly tripping a Hamburg player, and ended up in an argument with the referee, for which he was booked. This was Reus’ second yellow card of the season, the first one also coming against Hamburg. The hosts finally broke the deadlock a minute from the half time whistle, when Arango whipped the ball in from a free-kick that was met by the head of Mike Hanke. Replays clearly showed that Hanke was offside, but that is another argument all together.
An unlikely hero arrives
Hamburg returned to the field, a rejuvenated and completely different squad. They played with a lot more intent and took the game to the hosts. A couple of minutes into the half, Guerrero cut the ball across to Arslan, but he skied the ball from inside the penalty area. The next ten minutes belonged to the visitors as they launched attack after attack from the left flank. Jansen was a constant threat as he troubled Jantschke a great deal. Hamburg’s hard work paid dividends in the 56th minute, when a poorly dealt with corner fell to Arslan, who drilled the ball into the back off the net to bring The Red Shorts back on level terms.
Hamburg were fairly satisfied with the draw and began to play a tad more defensively. This was when Rincón and Jarolim stepped up a notch. Most of Gladbach’s attacks were shut down by this hard working midfield duo, who were in stark contrast to their opposition equals, Nordtveit and Neustädter. Rincón dealt extremely well with his fellow countryman, Juan Arango, while Jarolim was looking to pressurize Nordtveit.
Gladbach did manage to find their way back into the game once again, but were unable to provide that killer pass. Finishing was another low point in Gladbach’s game last night. A few half chances did fall to Gladbach, but Drobny was more than up to the task. The 1-1 draw was indeed the ideal result, one that could cost Gladbach in the future but Hamburg will accept with open arms.
Lucien Favre needs to find a suitable replacement for the injured Patrick Herrmann, and he needs to do this quick. De Camargo seemed a poor fit for Gladbach’s swift attacks, while Reus’ struggled without the right support Another worrying factor will be Nordtveit’s awful performance. The young Norwegian had a number of poor touches last night, failing to stamp his authority on the game. The same can be said of his partner Roman Neustädter. This result could hurt Gladbach’s title aspirations, but they will still remain hot favourites for that fourth spot.
Thorsten Fink will be delighted with his team’s performance as they manage to maintain their brilliant away form this season. European qualification may seem a little too far-fetched, but a few good results and some slip-ups by the likes of Leverkusen and Hannover could see Hamburg pushing for a Europa League spot in May. With Petric out injured, Fink may have found his back up to Guerrero and Son in the form of Tolgay Arslan. The youngster put in a brilliant performance in his first start for Hamburg, scoring a crucial goal and earning one immensely important point for his team.
Is a change in fortune on the cards for both of these teams?
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