August 23, 2017

2017-18 Season Preview: Borussia Mönchengladbach

Basics

  • Nicknames: Die Fohlen (The Foals), Die Borussen (The Borussians), and recently, A German Team.
  • Club Founding Date: August 1st, 1900.
  • Colors: Black, White, Green.
  • Primary Rival: FC Köln.
  • Fan Friendship: Liverpool FC.

Borussia-Park

  • Capacity: 54,057 2016-17
  • Average Attendance: 51,494

Trophies

  • Bundesliga Champion:  (5) 1969-70, 1970-71, 1974-75, 1975-76, 1976-77
  • 2. Bundesliga Champion: (1) 2007-08
  • DFB-Pokal Champion: (3) 1959-60, 1972-73, 1994-95
  • UEFA Cup: (2) 1974-75, 1978-79

2016-17 Finishes

  • Bundesliga9th.
  • DFB-PokalSemi-Finals.
  • UEFA Champions LeagueGroup Stage.
  • UEFA Europa LeagueRound of 16.

2016-17 Top Scorers

  • Lars Stindl: 26
  • Thorgan Hazard: 18
  • Raffael: 15

Summer 2017 Results

  • Record: 2-4-2
  • Goals Scored: 8
  • Goals Allowed: 8

Wuppertal 0-1 Mönchengladbach

Eupen 2-2 Mönchengladbach

Mönchengladbach 0-0 Werder Bremen

Mönchengladbach 0-0 Hoffenheim

Mönchengladbach 1-1 Leeds United

Mönchengladbach 1-2 Nice

FC Nürnberg 2-1 Mönchengladbach

Mönchengladbach 2-1 Malaga

Last Season in Review

Champions League. The crème de la crème of football. However, it appeared ‘Gladbach did not quite prepare themselves to balance out the added stress of an additional campaign alongside the Bundesliga campaign.

After winning a qualifying playoff, things did not go well in the group stage where the club drew super clubs Barcelona and Manchester City alongside Scottish giants Celtic. Although Mönchengladbach failed to get out of the group stage, the world was blessed with “A German Team” thanks to the struggles of a Scottish pub…

https://twitter.com/borussia_en/status/788748174403866624

Time to focus back on the domestic league. André Schubert failed miserably on trying to rally the team to another strong Bundesliga campaign, in the first half of the season ‘Gladbach lost half of their matches. The matches didn’t result in a draw. The matches resulted in a loss. 8 of 16. 24 potential points completely lost for a team trying to qualify for Champions League in just the first half of the season. Obviously that kind of performance is not really acceptable and Schubert lost his job.

So who came in? None other former ‘Gladbach player and 2015 Manager of the Year Dieter Hecking. Hecking previously enjoyed a successful stint at Wolfsburg where he won 48% of his matches and led Wolfsburg to a DFB-Pokal title in 2014-15. Hecking managed to rally the team together and get ‘Gladbach up to ninth, going 8-5-5 in the 18 matches of his tenure.

The two halves of the season were vastly different from one another, the first half could be defined as a disaster for club standards. That being said, appointing Hecking appeared to be the right choice. Although the second half was not great, it was far better from Schubert’s half.

Aspiration for this Season

Push for Europe.  Borussia Mönchengladbach are one of the historical giants of Germany and should always be pushing to qualify for, at the very least, Europa League. Dieter Hecking is a proven manager with a record of reasonable success, he should be expected to continue the success.

Reality Check

Mid-Table. Losing young star duo Andreas Christensen and Mahmoud Dahoud are key losses. New arrival Matthias Ginter should fill the gap left by Christensen nicely, but it is questionable if Denis Zakaria will get the job done in place of Dahoud. Mid-table is not very glamorous, but it is comfortable, and for a team who were battling relegation halfway through last season, it should be acceptable.

The Man on the Touchline

Image result for Dieter Hecking

So what has been mentioned so far about Dieter Hecking? Well, he did a fairly good job with Wolfsburg and he used to play for ‘Gladbach. Going back to his playing days, Hecking actually made his senior team debut with Mönchengladbach back in 1983. Unfortunately, he appeared less than ten times and in 1985, he left the club for Hessen Kassel where he emerged onto the scene as a solid player. As a midfielder, he appeared 168 times and scored a respectable 63 goals. In 1990, he left again, this time for Waldhof Mannheim. At Mannheim, the numbers still looked decent. In 54 appearances, Hecking put together 14 goals. However, he transferred to VfB Leipzig and in 61 appearances he scored just one meager goal. 11 years into his career, VfB Leipzig was not a good place to be. Hecking went on to revive his career at Paderborn-Neuhaus and later to Hannover 96 and Eintracht Braunschweig, where he would retire in 2000.

Retiring in 2000 did not mean he was done with football. In fact, immediately after retirement he took over as manager of SC Verl (Where he would lose his first match as a manager to none other than Eintracht Braunschweig. He didn’t last long, as for he was sacked in January of that season. Hecking would go on to manage VfB Lübeck, Alemannia Aachen, Hannover 96, FC Nürnberg, and of course Wolfsburg and now ‘Gladbach.

Tactical Philosophy

A good offense starts with a sturdy defense. The loss of Christensen was big, but Hecking is maintaining this point of view by making the big transfer of the window German international Matthias Ginter. Hecking also has consistently shown in his managerial career a preference of man marking when defending and shifting into a well-disciplined shape when out of possession. When possession is won, the fullbacks will come flying forward to allow the wingers to cut in and get into more threatening shooting positions. Borussia Mönchengladbach have a young team and young defenders, if Hecking can continue properly molding these players to his tactics, he will make ‘Gladbach a resurgent force.

Transfer Activity

Coming In:

  • Defender Matthias Ginter for €17m from Borussia Dortmund.
  • Midfielder Denis Zakaria for €12m from BSC Young Boys.
  • Winger Vincenzo Grifo for €6m from SC Freiburg.
  • Defender Reece Oxford on loan from West Ham United.
  • Midfielder Mickaël Cuisance for €250k from AS Nancy U19.
  • Midfielder Florian Neuhaus on a free move from 1860 Munich.

Image result for borussia monchengladbach Ginter

Exiting the Club:

  • Midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud for €12m to Borussia Dortmund.
  • Defender Marvin Schulz to FC Luzern.
  • Defender Julian Korb for €3m to Hannover 96.
  • Defender Nico Schulz for €3.5m to TSG Hoffenheim.
  • Midfielder Djibril Sow for €2m to BSC Young Boys.
  • Defender Andreas Christensen to Chelsea on loan expiry.
  • Striker André Hahn for €6m to Hamburger SV.

Strengths and Weaknesses

A certain strength will be the attack from ‘Gladbach. Hazard, Raffael, and Stindl are a capable and proven trio that you can expect production from. Hecking’s men are more than willing to also take a good shot from range, so opposing defenses will not be able to get very comfortable when “A German Team” has the ball.

Unfortunately, both the midfield and defense are not necessarily weaknesses, but rather questions. Will losing Christensen not seem so bad with Ginter’s arrival? What kind of performance can ‘Gladbach expect from Reece Oxford, an Englishman in Germany? Can Zakaria truly replace Dahoud? Will Zakaria be consistent if he is a good enough replacement? The clock on the transfer window is only getting closer to midnight, and Dieter Hecking could still use some added faces on the defensive end of things.

The Challenging Stretch

‘Gladbach got a bit lucky this year on the calendar. The most challenging four games are in the time periods of November 25th-December 12th and April 14th-May 5th, where they face Bayern, Wolfsburg, Schalke. and Freiburg in the same order. Bayern is obviously a tough fixture for anyone. Wolfsburg and Schalke are question marks going into this Bundesliga campaign, they do not appear to be much improved from last year but they could be surprising. Freiburg is a top six team in the Bundesliga, they could give ‘Gladbach a hard time. With a moderate schedule, The Foals could surprise a few.

Projected Finish: 7th

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Hailing from Ohio in the U.S., Aidan started watching soccer to better understand the game he played. Now he's a coach specialized in goalkeeper training, and loves writing about the Bundesliga. Aidan's true love is Borussia Dortmund, but respects the passion of all Bundesliga clubs (even Schalke). Aidan also contributes writing to the Yellow Wall Pod and underthecoshblog.com (Canadian soccer coverage). You can find him on twitter @aidan_reagh.

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