Two teams and coaches who know a thing or two about turning things around met Wednesday at Borussia Park in a battle of between Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfB Stuttgart, two sides that have both started the Bundesliga with 5 consecutive losses.
The derby of the jumpers, as German newspapers called it, featured two replacement managers in Andre Schubert and Jürgen Kramny who have both been anything but replacement level since taking over, both averaging better than 1.8 points per game.
The Foals started the game in control and dominated the first half in every aspect. Thorgan Hazard and Fabian Johnson were often interchanging sides and were giving Emiliano Insua a torrid time, while the midfield of Granit Xhaka (45 passes) and Mo Dahoud (36) were able to win the battles against the quiet Daniel Didavi (just 24 touches) and the always vocal Serey Dié. Up front, Raffael was up to his usual tricks, including 2 cheeky nutmegs by his own corner flag in a span of 5 seconds and some brilliant runs that most notably should have resulted in another goal on 35 minutes, but Lars Stindl put his tap-in wide from 6 yards out. Stuttgart looked confused and surprisingly a step slow… and ended up 4-0 losers to a convincing Gladbach side.
In the 16th minute a long ball from Oscar Wendt caught Insua out in space and Fabian Johnson’s great first touch took him past the Argentinean while his inch perfect pass made Thorgan Hazard’s finish child’s play for a 1-0 Gladbach lead. The goal was the Belgian’s first since 2014!
Man of the Match
Hazard is the obvious choice, as his 5 shots, 3 on target and 2 key passes and his goal in just 65 minutes, put him a class above everyone not named Raffael on the pitch. For one night anyway, fans at the Borussia Park were treated to a performance from the 2014/15 version of Thorgan Hazard, a season in which he finished with 7 assists. His dribbling and tricks will surely feature in the Stuttgart defenders’ nightmares tonight.
3 shots on target by Hazard in 65 were as many as Stuttgart’s entire team managed in 90 minutes.
1.On 44 minutes – Hazard nearly doubled his tally, as Tyton might have just gotten a finger to push his shot on to the crossbar.
2.Patrick Herrmann will surely be pleased in his second match back after a 5 months injury absence to score from his first touch today in the 69th minute.
3.This was the Foals team that took the league by storm after the initial 5 losses, as a steady defense lead to lightning quick attacks orchestrated by Dahoud and Xhaka and executed flawlessly by Hazard and Raffael.
1. Lukas Rupp and Artem Kravets came on at halftime for Dié and Werner, but Gladbach pushed on and created 3 huge chances, via the Hazard – Raffael duo. In the 59th minute Stuttgart fans must have been getting Zorniger era flashbacks, as Raffael finally cleaned up the mess by Tyton and Daniel Schwaab with a goal that is sure to make some yearly howler compilations.
2. This game was very reminiscent of Zorniger era Stuttgart, as a decent start was followed by shocking individual mistakes (Insua, Tyton, Schwaab, Großkreutz) that proved to be their undoing.
3. Jürgen Kramny should also shoulder some of the blame for not starting Alexandru Maxim (completing 16 of his 17 passes after coming on in the 67th minute) and Lukas Rupp (24 of 28), who both looked miles better than Daniel Didavi and Serey Dié. With last week’s shocking loss to Hannover and this latest setback, die Schwaben desperately need a win against the recently frisky Hoffenheim, whose 2-1 win over Augsburg and a fight to avoid relegation should be more than enough motivation. Stuttgart’s hope is that perhaps the quick turnaround will not give pundits enough to time pontificate about the Kramny voodoo wearing off.
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