Munich - Borussia Mönchengladbach's reward for a top-four finish sees them lock horns with Ukraine's Dynamo Kyiv for a place in the Champions League proper on Tuesday night.

The two-legged tie is the culmination of a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for last season's surprise Bundesliga package who, only 18 months ago, stood on the brink of relegation.

New era


Marco Reus weighed in with 18 Bundesliga goals and 11 assists as Borussia held off the challenge of Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the battle for the fourth and final Champions League spot, while defensive lynchpin Dante provided the foundations to a back four which has conceded an average of just one goal per game since Lucien Favre took over as head coach. However, while both players will be playing Champions League football next season, it will not be for the Foals but for FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively. Favre, meanwhile, moved swiftly to replace the pair with Spanish defender Alvaro Dominguez, midfield holding player Granit Xhaka and top goalscoring prospect Luuk De Jong all arriving in Mönchengladbach.

At the age of just 21, Dutch striker De Jong will be looking to fill Reus' boots, and he joins the Bundesliga ranks backed by the recommendation of 25 goals in just 31 Eredivisie appearances for FC Twente last term. Xhaka, on the other hand, should bring guile and creativity to Favre's side. The Swiss teenager has crossed the Swiss-German border after helping FC Basel to a domestic double in 2011/12 and his arrival, creating a competition for places, makes the post-Reus era more stomachable for Gladbach's fans.

Champions League pedigree


Gladbach are still a dark shade of green in comparison to their illustrious opponents, who practically had a subscribed place in Europe's elite competition until recently. Looking to end a drought of three years without Champions League football, Dynamo Kyiv still travel to Germany with a wealth of European experience. The Ukrainians lifted the Cup Winners' Cup in 1975 and 1986, before reaching the Champions League and Uefa Cup semi-finals in 1999 and 2009 respectively. They saw off the threat of Dutch side Feyenoord in the third qualifying round to make it this far, but step out at Borussia Park off the back of their first league defeat of the season, a 1-0 reverse at Vorskla. Food for thought for Gladbach, perhaps.

The two sides have met once before, with Mönchengladbach winning the 1976-77 semi-final tie 2-1 on aggregate before losing to Liverpool in the final. 34 years have passed since Mönchengladbach last graced the European circuit and the heydays of the seventies will serve as a carrot dangling in front of their current crop of players looking to pen a new chapter in the club's European history. And with the DFB Cup win over Alemannia Aachen already under their belts, the Foals go into the first leg against Kyiv full of confidence as they go in search of a positive result on home soil before next week's return leg in the Ukrainian capital.

Christopher Mayer-Lodge