A supreme performance from Gladbach saw them record their first league victory of the new season after two successive draws. Two goals from André Hahn, complimented by goals from Raffael and Max Kruse were more than enough to see off a dismal showing from Schalke’s players whose performance resulted only in a consolation goal from a penalty courtesy of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting. The nature of their defeat will surely pile more pressure onto manager Jens Keller.
Schalke’s defensive frailties punished
At the start of tonight’s game Keller deployed Dennis Aogo at left-back and Marco Höger at right-back, it was a disaster from the very start. Both players pushed forward constantly which meant they were no where to be seen when Gladbach instigated one of their fearsome counter-attacks, something Keller had commented on before the game. For the first goal Hahn had miles of space on the right wing and was allowed to drive into the box before finishing with his weaker right foot into the near side of the net from a tight angle. The second goal, however, was not due to the full-backs but instead occurred because of defensive frailties as a Kruse free-kick was delivered into the box and Hahn was unmarked as he headed beautifully into the top corner. Kruse grabbed himself a goal in the 56th minute when again one of the full-backs went missing, this time Christian Fuchs, as Raffael got the ball in his own half before releasing Kruse with a beautifully weighted through ball and Kruse finished smartly passed the outstretched Ralf Fährmann. The final goal for the home side was again created out wide as Patrick Hermann ran clear before pulling the cross just behind substitute Branimir Hrgota allowing Christian Clemens to get a touch but Raffael followed up and fired the ball in from the edge of the box for a deserved goal.
Hahn, Kruse and Raffael’s attacking brilliance pays off for Lucian Favre
Had it not been for Ralf Fährmann’s performance tonight then we could’ve been looking at Gladbach scoring 6+. Kruse’s presence upfront made a huge difference for Gladbach today. He missed the start of the season due to pelvic problems which meant that Gladbach struggled for goals in their first two games of the season, the only goal coming from Christoph Kramer as a last minute equaliser against VfB Stuttgart. He gained an assist for both of Hahn’s goals tonight as well as getting one himself before going off in the 78th minute to rapturous applause from the Borussia Park faithful. Raffael was also on top of his game Saturday, involved in nearly everything Gladbach did going forward, repeatedly running with the ball including an incredible moment where he received the ball in his own half before beating at least four defenders on his way to a decent shot that was well saved by Fährmann.
The gap between the Schalke midfield and the defence repeatedly allowed Raffael to break with the ball and it was reminiscent of Marco ‘Rolls’ Reus’s spell with the club. André Hahn completes Gladbach’s trio and he was arguably the best of the lot contributing much more than just his two goals. Schalke’s defensive high line combined with their full-backs’ attacking nature allowed Hahn to repeatedly come short before spinning in behind to be fed by the likes of Raffael, which enabled him to use the ball to devastating effect. His willingness to make runs is invaluable to his team, he will make runs and even if he doesn’t get the ball he will keep making runs until he gets the ball and has chance on goal. This also frees up space for his fellow attackers.
Schalke’s lack of creative depth could become a serious problem
Coming into tonight’s game Max Meyer, Julian Draxler and Klaas Jan Huntelaar were left on the bench as all three had minor knocks. This meant that Kevin-Prince Boateng was pushed further forward into an attacking midfield role but he wasn’t able to create very much and as a result Choupo-Moting was forced to feed on scraps for much of the game. Sidney Sam was probably Schalke’s best attacking player; he put through Choupo-Moting in the 25th minute but he rushed his shot and it was well saved by Yann Sommer. Sam was also the main reason behind Schalke’s solitary goal as it was his cross that Martin Stranzl handled in the air resulting in a penalty converted by Choupo-Moting. The last 10 minutes were bit more encouraging for Jens Keller’s side as both Draxler and Huntelaar had been brought on and they created a few more chances including a Huntelaar header at the back post that seemed destined for the net before Sommer brilliantly cleared off his line to deny the Dutch striker.
Lucien Favre’s Gladbach side will try to build on their big win Saturday when they play away to rivals FC Koln on Sunday September 21, while Schalke host Eintracht Frankfurt next Saturday as the Royal Blues attempt to dig themselves out of the nether reaches of the Bundesliga table against Thomas Schaaf’s team.
Gladbach: Sommer – Jantschke (46’ Herrmann), Stranzl, Dominguez, Wendt – Kramer, Xhaka, Hahn, Johnson – Raffael (83’ Hazard), Kruse (77’ Hrgota)
Schalke: Fährmann – Clemens, Ayhan, Höwedes, Aogo (71’ Friedrich) – Höger (63’ Huntelaar), Neustädter – Sam, Boateng, Fuchs (46’ Draxler) – Choupo-Moting
Header photo courtesy of torfabrik.de
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