After disappointing away results so far this season Borussia Mönchengladbach and Lucien Favre finally picked up their first point away from home against the in form Augsburg. Andre Hahn kicked off the scoring before Max Kruse equalized. Gladbach then took the lead through substitute Branimir Hrogta in the second half before Augsburg’s own joker off the bench, Arkadiusz Milik, leveled the scoring two minutes from time.
Following Augsburg’s 3-0 win against Preussen Münster in the Cup midweek, coach Markus Weinzierl made two changes. Moravek started in midfield instead of Vogt and Ostrzolek instead of de Jong in the back. His opposite, Lucien Favre, made just one change, starting Nordtveit for the suspended Xhaka in central midfield. Augsburg looked to bounce back and continue their good run of form after losing to Hannover last week while Gladbach were still in search of their first three points on the road.
Hahn vs Kruse
More than anything, this game was decided by two individuals. Hahn on the right and Kruse up front were the two most dangerous and incisive players for each side. Hahn and captain Paul Verhaegh behind him combined brilliantly all game long and created most of Augsburg’s chances from the right. Hahn scored Augsburg’s first and pulled Jantschke out of position constantly. For a player who has been doing well this was also a big psychological relief. Hahn has taken 43 shots so far in the Bundesliga and only against Gladbach managed his first goal in the league.
Kruse meanwhile continued his fine form this season. His goal and assist now means he has been involved in 56% of Gladbach’s last 16 goals and is easily one of the league’s best performers so far this season. That said, all his goals and assists have come at home so this was the first time he got on the scoresheet and set up one on the road. Similar to the team in general, it was important for Kruse and his teammates to get a result away from home after a string of poor results.
What makes Kruse so difficult to mark is his constant off the ball movement. He never stood still against Augsburg, had the most shots on goal and the most crosses which speaks volumes about his mobility. He is also highly involved defensively and only two other players on the field won more duels than him. This performance, albeit not his very best this season, should only continue the discussion about him being a potential Miroslav Klose replacement in next month’s World Cup qualifiers for Germany.
Augsburg’s defensive qualities and Gladbach’s away blues
Before this game, and this season as a whole, Augsburg’s main strengths have been their defensive organization and ability to keep teams out. On average they face the fewest shots in the Bundesliga. In this game they very well prepared again, limiting Gladbach to just eight shots over 90 minutes and just three in the second half. A lot of that defensive energy does take away from their offensive momentum but it’s a strategy that has paid dividends for them in the last two months. Defense aside, Weinzierl also has more options off the bench now than he did last season. Milik was an inspired sub and in Holzhauser and Vogt he also has two very functional players at his disposal.
On the other side, if Gladbach are to maximize their potential and replicate their great finish two years ago they absolutely have to reverse their current away form. Favre will be hoping that the Augsburg result was the start of that because the team has virtually had two faces this season depending on whether they played in front of their own supporters or played on the road. At home they have created an average of over 11 chances per game whereas on the road that number dips well below at around 9, a significant enough margin considering the strength of their attack.
In the end Favre’s substitution won them the point in a game where Augsburg were probably the better team over 90 minutes but Gladbach need to do better at creating and finishing their chances on the road and shore up their defense. They’ve only kept one clean sheet so far this season and only three teams have faced more shots and conceded more than them so far this season.
All in all this is not a bad result for either team. For Augsburg this was the first time in 19 games that they’ve drawn and for Gladbach it was the first time they’ve split points in 15 matches. Augsburg have lost just one in their last four and have collected ten points already after just seven games. Last season it took them 18 games to reach that mark. Gladbach can take some kind of consolation from an unfamiliar point on the road. Psychologically this should be a boost and a momentum builder for their next four trips, all games that they can get points out of (Hertha Berlin, Hamburg, Stuttgart and Mainz).
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