November 18, 2017

Season Preview 2014-2015: Borussia Mönchengladbach

Nicknames: Die Fohlen (The Foals)

Founded: 1 August 1900

Club colors: Green-black-white

Primary Rivals: 1. FC Köln

Fan Friendship: Liverpool F.C.

Trophies:

  • Bundesliga Champion (5): 1969-70, 1970-71, 1974-75, 1975-76, 1976-77

  • DFB-Pokal Winner (3): 1959-60, 1972-73, 1994-95

  • UEFA Cup Winner (2): 1974-75, 1978-79

Stadium: Stadion im Borussia-Park (capacity: 54,047) (opened: 30 July, 2004)

2013-14 Finishes:

  • Bundesliga: 6th (55 pts.)

  • DFB Pokal: 1st round

Top Goal Scorer: Raffael (15 goals)

2013-14 Season Summary

Club Reputation

Just like Die Nationalmannschaft, Borussia Mönchengladbach had to wait for 24 years to have another world champion on their squad, and Gladbach midfielder Christoph Kramer was not just an anonymous member of the German squad but played in the final, replacing Sami Khedira, who was injured during the final warm-up. Though the Leverkusen loanee was as unlucky as Khedira, as he had to come-off in the half hour mark for serious head injury,  Kramer seemed calm and collected for someone making his first starting appearance for his nation, not to mention in the biggest match of any players’ career. Besides Kramer, with the likes of current Barcelona goalie Marc-André ter Stegen and Max Kruse – both missed out narrowly from making it into Brazil – Gladbach are blessed with players sought out by big clubs. It’s not a secret that much of the credit goes to Lucien Favre’s philosophy, and his cooperation with Sporting Director Max Eberl to scout significant signings in the last couple of seasons. Gladbach also made a name for themselves for a pleasant matchday atmosphere, as many put down Borussia-Park as one of the best places to experience for football enthusiasts.

Reality

Although the Foals are not close to emulating their glory years from four decades ago, Gladbach once again find their name in the continental stages, a stark contrast to the days they flirted with relegation in not so distance memory. After a rather mediocre campaign in 2012/13, they once again raised many eyebrows by climbing to the top three at the end of last season’s Hinrunde, a product of their sensational home form. Although there were setbacks after the winterpause, Gladbach did enough to book their place for the preliminary round of Europa League, which will see them go head to head with Bosnian side FK Sarajevo for a berth in the group stage.

Philosophy

Patient build-up possession football is the theme at Gladbach these days. In fact, according to stats from whoscored.com, they are only bettered by Bayern Munich(yes, you guessed right) in that department last season. Favre’s players are very organized at the back, and always start attacks from deep down positions, while possessing a fearful attacking quartet last season thanks to off-season acquisitions Raffael and Max Kruse. Although the magical left-foot of Juan Arango will be missed (not just at Gladbach, but overall in the league too), the club’s new signings are an exciting group

Plan B

If there is one thing Lucien Favre is well-known for, it is his strict stance in not changing a winning side. Only few players break into the team after starting the season on the bench: those who get the chance generally do so through injuries to regular players,and plan B is always where ‘Gladbach has come short in recent seasons. Just like a couple of season ago, in which the team salvaged a European Champions League playoff place at last, ‘Gladbach had a below-par second half of season comparing to their overwhelmingly bright start, as fatigue played its role in the club’s noticeable decline in performance. Not just for staying true to his player selections, but Favre has also been criticized for not adjusting his team to the challenges posed by opposing clubs, as Favre’s side always seem to struggles against compact sides like Augsburg and Mainz.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The club’s record prior to and after Favre’s hiring in January, 2011 make it crystal clear that the Swiss coach prioritizes the stabilization of the team’s defense to create a competitive foundation.  Before Favre was hired, Coach Michael Frontzeck’s side were by far the league’s worst defense, but a year later Gladbach are among the top three clubs with fewestr goals  conceded. Though they didn’t have same record last season, the Foal’sdefense was still regarded as one Germany’s best, and the midfield area was anchored by players who can keep possession at will, and the attacking front – which was their main target in the transfer window with most notable signing of speedy wingers Ibrahima Traoré and André Hahn – will be hoping to have the same enviable home record from last season.

It will be interesting to see how Favre will approach the situation of his team competing on three fronts provided they get far in European and the DFB Pokal. Although the squad seems to grow in size with numbers of signings over the winter, including versatile US international Fabian Johnson, they will be missing the ever-present Arango’s service especially from dead-ball situations.. New goalkeeper Yann Sommer also has to fill big foots in form of his predecessor and new Barcelona shot-stopper ter Stegen. The club’s performance away from home seemed to take a turn for better last season after spending an awful lot of time without a back-to-back league win, but playing away from Borussia Park still creates a cause for concern. With rumors flying over the future of Christoph Kramer and Swiss international Granit Xhaka – the former will be back to his parent club at the end of the season – Gladbach also should not risk missing either one of the midfield aces while the season is just about to kick-off.

Takeaway from 2013-14

One couldn’t take a European place for granted in such competitive league full of shocking flops and overachievers. When the likes of Werder Bremen, Hamburg and Hannover fighting at the table’s lower end in spite of the hindsight expectations, Gladbach had never been much in doubt over securing a place in Europe after narrowly missing out in the previous season. Now that they have marked their territory in the top third of the table, Gladbach can take great pride in continuing their progress in the right direction, although ter Stegen’s departure, and the interest of bigger clubs in players like Max Kruse, Kramer and Xhaka get the fans to sweating over losing yet another star performer, particularly with memories of the transfer loss of Marco Reus’ after a  breakthrough season still fresh.

Trivia

Patrick Herrmann subbed off in all but five league matches last season, despite starting all thirty-four matches.

Verdict

It shouldn’t be a surprise if the Foals compete for another Champions League berth, but that won’t’t be an easy target with Wolfsburg finally seem to sort their issues, and Schalke and Leverkusen, who both made it to the top four in the last couple of seasons. At the very least, anything less another than another top-six finish in the Bundesliga, combined with a better run in Europe (perhaps a quarter-final appearance) would be what I put my money on.  Anything better than last season’s first round exit in DFB Pokal would be a pleasant addition.

The Boss

After only three full season at helm, Lucien Favre has been able to drag the Borussians out of the relegation zone and build the club’s reputation as an ideal candidate for European competition. His success Mönchengladbach hasn’t gone unnoticed, as top clubs are after him, but to their displeasure Favre’s contract has been recently extended through the end of the 2016/2017 season.

Odds to win league: 150/1 (source: Paddy Power)

60-second dossier” (source: statto)

  • Number of Matches won by 2 or more goals: 12

  • Number of Matches won by 1 goal: 4

  • Number of Matches drawn: 7

  • Number of Matches lost by 1 goal: 5

  • Number of Matches lost by 2 or more goals: 6

  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in loss: 2

  • Number of matches in which a lead was blown, resulting in draw: 5

  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn a draw: 3

  • Number of matches in which a deficit was overcome to earn victory: 3

Five-Year Record: 12, 16, 4, 8, 6

Q & A with a club fan:

  • Keep an eye out for . . .” :

    We hope Thorgan Hazard will be a great help in front to deliver the goals alongside last season’s top-scorer Raffael. On the other end, the experienced he gathered in European stages from his time at Basel will provide Yann Sommer with the confidence to shine at Borussia. But, of course, it’s the team as a whole who can make something happen not the individuals.

  • “Terrace favorite . . .” :

    Last time out it was Juan Arango who’s a fan favorite. Although it’s early to predict, Raffael, who voted the best player by the fans last season, and World Cup Champion Christoph Kramer would have a better chance of becoming terrace favorites this season.

  • “Player you’d happily drive to another club . . .” :

    As long as we don’t see a former FC Köln player in the squad, we are pretty much happy.

  • “Advice you’d give your manager . . .” :

    He always take a while to make substitutions in the match. Rather than waiting until the final five minutes, it would be great if roll his dices a little earlier. The cameo appearances was not helping the fringe players to get enough playing times to show their worth for the club, and it also keep them from getting enough experience in big stages.

  • “Opposition player you secretly admire . . .” :

    Mats Hummels is a great player at BVB.

  • “Opposition player you despise. . .” :

    I just couldn’t come up with a player who’s as annoying as Thomas Broich, who only had bad things to say about our club after making a move to local rivals Koln almost a decade ago. It’s a good thing that he no longer plays in Germany.

  • “Where will you finish . . .” :

    I personally prefer to see us reaching the latter stage of Europa League rather than dumping out in the group stage by Europe’s elite teams in the CL. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we make to the semis in Europa League. I guess we’ll finish in top five this term, and I do believe we’ve got a team who can make it to the Champions League.

  • Who’d be the best signing of the season? :

    Hazard and Hahn

Fixture list:

August

  • 24 VFB Stuttgart (H)

  • 31 SC Freiburg (A)

September

  • 13 FC Schalke 04 (H)

  • 21 Köln (A)

  • 24 Hamburger SV (H)

  • 27 SC Paderborn (A)

October

  • 04 Mainz 05 (H)

  • 18 Hannover 96 (A)

  • 25 Bayern München (H)

November

  • 01 TSG Hoffenheim (H)

  • 08 Borussia Dortmund (A)

  • 22 Eintracht Frankfurt (H)

  • 29 VFL Wolfsburg (A)

December

  • 06 Hertha BSC (H)

  • 13 Bayer Leverkusen (A)

  • 16 Werder Bremen (H)

  • 20 FC Augsburg (A)

January

  • 31 VFB Stuttgart (A)

February

  • 03 SC Freiburg (H)

  • 07 FC Schalke 04 (A)

  • 14 Köln (H)

  • 22 Hamburger SV (A)

  • 28 SC Paderborn (H)

March

  • 07 Mainz 05 (A)

  • 14 Hannover 96 (H)

  • 21 Bayern München (A)

April

  • 04 TSG Hoffenheim (A)

  • 11 Borussia Dortmund (H)

  • 18 Eintracht Frankfurt (A)

  • 25 VFL Wolfsburg (H)

May

  • 02 Hertha BSC (A)

  • 09 Bayer Leverkusen (H)

  • 16 Werder Bremen (A)

  • 23 FC Augsburg (H)

Crucial Schedule Stretch:

It’s always fixtures against fierce rivals that fans instantly search for when the schedules for a new season released. In the case of Die Fohlen, the Billy Goats finally have returned to Germany’s top division, which brings back memories of the sides’ famous rivalry, and Matchday 4 will do the honor as the newly-promoted Köln side look for a revenge when they entertain ‘Gladbach, who scored 15 goals in the clubs’ last four meetings. But it’s not only for the sole reason of local pride that the month of September is chosen as the most crucial for Gladbach’s season, as Favre’s side will also face tough opponents Schake and Hamburg at home before finishing the month with a little trip to Paderborn – where former Foals’ Elias Kachunga and Lukas Rupp now ply their trade for. A perfect month at the start of the season would see Gladbach build confidence for pulling yet another  run at the top of the table behind Bayern and Dortmund.

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Eskender born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Despite the geographical difference, he is interested in every detail of German football. He breathes football to the point that he gets pleasure from nutmegging his innocent kid. You can also follow him on Twitter @eskeBMG

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