Mönchengladbach – Anyone who watched Borussia Mönchengladbach’s charge up the table in the second half of last season, in which they won more points (39) than any other side, will no doubt be puzzled at the Foals’ current position at the very bottom of the Bundesliga standings.
Lucien Favre’s men have so far played two, lost two, scoring just one and conceding six: an astonishing figure considering they only let in ten in total between January and May earlier this year. So what has gone wrong at the Borussia-Park?
Sporting director Max Eberl offered one suggestion in the wake of Gladbach’s 2-1 defeat at home to 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Sunday: “We need to find our feet again, make our movements second nature again and defend compactly as a team once more. That’s what we’re lacking at the moment.”
As on Matchday 1 in the 4-0 defeat against Borussia Dortmund, Gladbach were defensively vulnerable against Mainz and could count themselves lucky to go into the break only 1-0 down, especially as the visitors struck the woodwork twice.
New faces need time
Changes in personnel over the summer was another possible cause cited for Gladbach’s early season teething troubles. “We’re missing five players who were important for us last term,” said Eberl, referring chiefly to the departures of Max Kruse and Christoph Kramer, while centre-back Alvaro Dominguez is absent through injury.
“We need to build a new team and that takes time,” Eberl continued. “We’re trying to compensate for the losses with new players but we know that it takes time to get used to the way we play.”
Gladbach improved after the break against Mainz and scored their first league goal of the campaign through Patrick Herrmann. They went on to create several more clear-cut opportunities, but failed to take any of them. “Mainz had four chances and scored two; we had ten and scored one,” bemoaned Granit Xhaka afterwards.
Defensive frailties and attacking shortcomings: a potent combination that would trip up any side. Yet Favre is known for his meticulous work ethic and the Foals’ squad boasts too much quality not to come good sooner or later. If Xhaka is to be believed then the team will turn the corner on Matchday 3 away to SV Werder Bremen: “We obviously imagined our start to the season going differently but I’m convinced we’ll pick up points in Bremen. We’re men enough to be able to make amends.”