A major question asked by Borussia Mönchengladbach supporters this offseason is “How will the club replace Marco Reus?” But, thus far the absence of the electrifying midfielder is not weighing as heavily on the club as replacing central defender Dante and defensive midfielder Roman Neustädter, as the Foals again had to come back against a 2nd division club in Wednesday’s 4-2 friendly win over TSV 1860 München.
A narrative similar to the Foals’ 2-2 draw with Birmingham City last weekend repeated itself for Coach Lucien Favre and his Foals as Gladbach had to come from behind to earn a result. Gladbach started well in the friendly played at Rottach-Egern Stadium, with a lineup featuring newcomers Luuk De Jong, Granit Xhaka, Branimir Hrgota with veteran backup Christofer Heimeroth getting the nod in goal in place of starter Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Although the Foals began the match well, as Hrgota nudged a nice pass from deep left of 1860’s goal to midfielder Julian Korb who forced a fine save from 1860 goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly (wearing his trademark gray sweatpants) in the 14th minute. as the half wore on it was 1860 that looked the superior side.
The Lions seemed to easily unlock the Foals’ defense. with Maximilian Nicu provided constant danger down the left flank. The Lions took a 1-0 lead midway through the first half, when midfielder Kai Bülow knocked a shot in from a rebound off Heimeroth. The Lions should have chalked up more goals as the energized Moritz Stoppelkamp fired a dangerous long shot from the left that soared just above Foal’s goal and 1860 newcomer Guillermo Vallori aimed a close-range shot following a corner kick that a diving Heimeroth was able to knock away. The Lions had three shots on frame compared to one from the Foals in the first 45 minutes.
Following intermission, the Lions came out with the same fire that they demonstrated in the first half. Nicu again provided danger on the left, as his excellent cross was met by Ismael Blanco, another newcomer to 1860. The former Legia Warsaw player met the ball on the run and from the six yard box converted the cross to give 1860 a 2-0 lead three minutes into the second half, and had another dangerous shot go just wide a bit later before Gladbach woke up to halve the München lead from 18 year-old Amin Younes. The youngster was rewarded for his good play when he received a pass in the box and created enough space to launch a shot to the far post.
The insertion of Igor de Camorgo and Peniel Mlapa by Lucien Favre in the second half seemed to lift Gladbach’s offense, as former Hoffenheim forward Mlapa used his size (6’5″ tall) and pace to find space and create danger for the Foals. 1860’s defense sprang leaks as de Camargo equalized on a left-footed shot that hit the far post and went into the net. In the 82nd minute, de Camargo struck again as his leaping, forceful header from a well-placed Oscar Wendt corner gave the Foals a 3-2 lead. Twenty-year old midfielder Alexander Bieler finished the scoring with a fine curving shot from just outside the 18 yard box that substitute 1860 keeper Tim Ochs was unable to reach.
While Favre has to feel good about the performances of Younes, Mlapa, de Camargo and young loanee Tolga Ciğerci, the club’s defensive disorganization has to be problematic, especially for a club that last year featured the second-stingiest defending in the Bundesliga. Nicu, along with former Hadjuk Split winger Marin Tomasov, found plenty of space down both sides of the Foals’ defense, while Blanco had several good scoring chances. On one occasion, second-half Gladbach goalkeeper Janis Blaswich had to range far outside the box to defuse a Lions’ breakaway. While it is still the preseason, with numerous substitutions not only in midfield and up front but also on the backline, there is some excuse for the Foals’ numerous defensive lapses, but at this point the club looks more unable to replace Dante and Neustadter than Reus, having to twice play from behind against second division clubs while allowing them four goals in 180 minutes of play. Newcomer Luuk de Jong was rather anonymous in his Foals’ debut, while recently acquired Spanish defender Ivaro Domínguez did not see action against 1860. Ter Stegen and Patrick Hermann were also absent from the match.
Meanwhile, 1860 manager Reiner Maurer has to feel good about the first 60 minutes of his team’s performance. Argentinian Blanco looks like the real deal as a scorer, while the play of other newcomers such as Greek international Grigoris Makos, St. Pauli’s Moritz Volz and particularly ex-Hannover man Stoppelkamp give the Lions the look of a contender for promotion. Kiraly was solid in goal, but the defensive lapses during the last 30 minutes of the match will have to be corrected if München are to make a run at promotion this season. Despite surrendering four second-half goals, it’s important to remember that the Lions were playing a Champions League club in Upper Bavaria Wednesday.
TSV 1860 München open their season on Saturday August 4 hosting newly promoted SSV Jahn Regensburg.
Gladbach Lineup: 33 Heimrot (46, 21 Blaswich) – 24 Jantzschke, 4 Brouwers (46, 14 Marx), 25 Younes, 27 Bin – 31 Hrgota (46, 22 Mlapa), 17 Wendt, 16 Nordtveit, 8 Rupp – 34 Xhaka, 9 de Jong (62, 10 de Camargo).
1860 Lineup: 1 Kiraly (46, 22 ox) – 3 Wojtkowiak (64, 27 Feick), 26 Schindler, 5 Vallori (46th, 6 steel), 2 Volz (87, 32 Buhler) – 21 Makos (87 , 17 Vocaj), 4 Bulow – 8 Nicu (87, 33 Vollmann), 28 Halfar (46th, Tomasov) – 10 Stoppelkamp, 11 Lauth (46, 18 Blanco)