- André Hahn and Gladbach are strong at home - less so away.
- The 26-year-old has moved to centre forward from the wing.
- He'll lead the line for the foals against Hamburg on Saturday.
Borussia Mönchengladbach have turned their home ground the Borussia-Park into a fortress. Away from home, it seems no matter how well they play the foals struggle to get results. In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, Gladbach forward Andre Hahn has a simple answer to what’s behind that dynamic
bundesliga.com: Mr. Hahn, a very wobbly Hamburg are coming to the Borussia-Park - they’re in last place and have taken only one point so far this season. How does a coach and a team prepare for a game like that without subconsciously underestimating their opponent?
André Hahn: We’re going into this game like we do any other. That means we won’t underestimate HSV any more than we did SV Werder Bremen a few weeks ago, and they were in a tough situation themselves then. After six match days, the table can’t tell you all that much about the tactical quality of a team. But it is clear Hamburg are under pressure here - they need to get a result. But we’re playing in Borussia-Park, and it’s no secret we’re a real powerhouse at home.
"We certainly don’t have a fundamental problem in defence."
bundesliga.com: HSV have a new coach in Markus Gisdol. As an opposing player, do you think about what effect that might have on a game, or is that sort of a side issue to you?
Hahn: Of course we’re aware of it and we all know from experience that a coaching change gives players a chance to prove themselves and show what they have to offer. It’s a motivating factor, it fires players up. But for us that kind of news is a side issue, because it’s never going to matter to us that much how our opponent wants to play. It’s always our goal to play our game, and play attractive football. And we have a bit to put right after losing 4-0 at FC Schalke 04.
bundesliga.com: You mentioned that loss at Schalke, which connects to a kind of weakness away from home for Gladbach. Does that mean you really need to pile up wins at home?
Hahn: That’s right. As long as we keep failing to get results away, we need to make up for it at home. At the same time, we’re playing good football away, keeping the ball...
bundesliga.de: ...statistically-speaking, even more than at home...
Hahn: Exactly. But we can’t seem to turn that into results. The killer instinct we show in front of goal at home just isn’t there in the same way when we’re away from home.
bundesliga.com: Why is that?
Hahn: If you analyse the game at Schalke, you have to say that neither us nor Schalke played all that well in the first half. Our coach decided to shake things up, and really go for it in the second 45 minutes. It worked well for the first few minutes - suddenly we were playing the precise kind of football we had wanted to be playing all along. But then we gave up a penalty. Schalke took the lead and we were looking to get one back right away...and within six minutes it was all over! You look up at the scoreboard and is says ‘3-0 to Schalke’ and you ask yourself ‘What happened here? We were playing so well and had the game under control...’ But that’s football.
bundesliga.com: Borussia scores a lot of goals, but gives up a lot as well. Do you think the team’s problem isn’t just with playing away, but with defence in general?
Hahn: We’re a very attacking side, so giving up goals at the back can happen. Our general outlook is to always score at least one more than the other team. Unfortunately that doesn’t always work. But we certainly don’t have a fundamental problem in defence. We have a lot of quality at the back. But we play with a three-man backline and our wingbacks play well up the pitch...
bundesliga.com: ...it feels like they’re up at the opposing penalty area, you could say.
Hahn: Exactly. And when our opponents counter, when they really play the ball well through midfield and we’re slow to shift, they can really find themselves in a lot of space. It’s up to our back three to sort it out, which is why the way we play isn’t always easy for them.
bundesliga.com: Three-man versus four-man backlines seem to be a topic of discussion around the club at the moment. Does a striker like yourself - somebody who’s a ways off from all that - think much about it?
Hahn: Definitely. Whenever you switch from three at the back to four, the general tactical plan changes. Sometimes it means one of my passing options that’s usually there simply isn’t anymore.
bundesliga.com: Leaving aside tactical questions, or how attractive Gladbach’s game is, the team’s results look like this: Three wins at home, two losses and a draw away, 10 goals scored and 10 conceded. Is this an average team right now?
Hahn: Borussia’s style of play over the last few years has set a standard, one that means you can describe us as average with a superficial glance like that. But we can’t forget that there are clubs whose financial capabilities are a lot bigger than ours. We don’t even have to mention the likes of Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, and the likes of VfL Wolfsburg, Schalke, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and maybe RB Leipzig as well. By that table, we’re already in sixth or seventh place, maybe back in eighth if somebody else has a good season. But the reality is we’ve managed to finish ahead of many of those clubs in the last few years.
bundesliga.com: Which is a sign that the continuity at Borussia is bearing fruit...
Hahn: And that’s why I think that we belong up near the top, where we’ve been, even if at the moment we’re down in ninth. The table is extremely tight right now. If we’d won at Schalke, we’d have gone second, and people might be talking about us as chasing Bayern - which is nonsense of course. We’ll find out where we really stand after 13, 14, 15 games. In any case, we need to beat Hamburg this weekend. If we can do that and start picking up points away, everything is going to look a lot different.
"I’m a centre forward now, and I understand that a centre forward is judged by his goals."
bundesliga.com: The next away match is in Munich. But then again, you personally have some good memories there...
Hahn: That’s true. In the past two years I’ve not lost against Bayern (laughs). And last season I managed to score to put the game level at on and get us a 1-1 draw there. We know we’re a team who can give Bayern problems.
bundesliga.com: Do you notice a difference yet between the Guardiola- and the Ancelotti-Bayern?
Hahn: I’ve not watched a Bayern game from start to finish this year yet. In that sense it’s hard for me to pass judgement. What I hear from colleagues, and from the media, seems to tell me that you can recognise Ancelotti’s signature on the team. At the moment I’m not giving that any thought. I’m sure our coach will have done his analysis and be ready to show us all we need to know.
bundesliga.com: Your goal against Bayern was one of six you scored in a run of five games, going back into last season. Since that win over Leverkusen on matchday one, you haven’t scored since. How come?
Hahn: I’m a centre forward now, and I understand that a centre forward is judged by his goals - particularly when you’re coming off a hot streak. If you don’t score for four games and you don’t get as much playing time, it’s normal to get a bit of criticism. I’m pretty sure I didn’t have my best game against Schalke either. Still, I’m not worried and am far from being a player in crisis. Whenever I play I try to work as hard as I can for the team. And in training I go all out to prove I belong in the starting line-up. That’s in my nature. We have a lot of quality up front. But I think I have a lot of quality myself, and I think I’ve shown that. I’m convinced that will shine through once I get another goal. Once I get one, more will follow.
bundesliga.com: You speak with a lot of confidence when you say ‘I’m a centre forward now’. Not too long ago, being a centre forward wasn’t necessarily anything to get excited about.
Hahn: You’re right there. I think the thing with centre forwards is like a lot of things in fashion. It’s in for a while, and then people start to think maybe its time has passed and it’s old-fashioned, and then maybe it disappears. And then suddenly it comes back and people think it’s chic. I think a similar thing is happening with Barcelona’s Tiki-taka; some people think it’s already over and done with. But if we look ahead 15 or 20 years, who knows? Maybe it’ll be the big thing in football again.
bundesliga.com: So playing as a centre forward suits you more than the wing, where you played under Lucien Favre, as well as in Augsburg?
Hahn: I’m happy to be able to play in both positions, because it means I have a better chance in a squad with a lot of good players. But I definitely like playing at centre forward. I feel like it’s a more important role, and it’s the position I learned as a kid. And you can see, for example, in Germany’s game against the Czech Republic, that suddenly these long diagonal balls to a target man can be even more important that the short passing game. Look at Mario Gomez: he’s very much in demand again. You can definitely say centre forwards are back in the Bundesliga.
Interview by Andreas Kötter