bundesliga.com has the pre-match skinny on what could prove to be a deciding fixture for the Foals in Group A…
Gladbach may be flying high in the Bundesliga, but after taking just two points from their opening European encounters, head coach Lucien Favre was keen to impress the need for his charges to stay grounded ahead of a must-win match. “On Thursday we’ve got to produce a big performance and win,” demanded the 56-year-old.
Favre has “everyone on board” after confirming that Christoph Kramer had “recovered from the flu”. However, with Gladbach’s World Cup winner only returning to training on Wednesday and Havard Nordtveit still labouring under the affects of an ankle knock, a holding midfield spot is still up for grabs.
Thursday’s fixture marks the competitive debut for Limassol’s new head coach Iona Andone. The Romanian will be without 19-year-old Charis Kyriakou, while doubts remain over the fitness of first-team regulars Rachid Hamdani (pictured), Jan Rezek and Guie Gneki Abraham, who boast 20 Europa League appearances between them.
With five goals and three assists - including his brace against Hannover 96 - to his name this season, Max Kruse is brimming with confidence and establishing himself as one of the Foals’ most dependable performers. Yet to register on the scoresheet in Europe though, the 26-year-old’s dynamism should prove pivotal.
While the goalscoring onus will likely fall on Fotis Papoulis, scorer of Limassol’s opener in the 3-2 win over FC Zürich, the experienced presence provided by Camel Meriem in midfield should shift the focus away from the Greek striker. A relative European veteran, the Frenchman already has 27 Europa League appearances under his belt.
Yann Sommer: "This will be a decisive game in deciding our fate and we want nothing more than to pick up our first three points."
Lucien Favre, Gladbach head coach: "We’ve got to get through the group stages. We’re thinking step-by-step. Our concentration is fully on Limassol."
Limassol enjoyed a six-game winning streak before back-to-back 4-0 losses cost Christakis Christoforou his job, while Gladbach are yet to suffer defeat this season. Most impressive though is their record of conceding just seven times in those 13 outings, moving Yann Sommer (l.) out of former Foals keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s shadow.
Gladbach's biggest ever European win came against Cypriot opposition. Enosis Pezoporikou Amol FC were on the receiving end of a 10-0 second leg defeat in a 1970/71 European Champion Clubs' Cup first round tie in which clubs legends such as Berti Vogts (l.), Jupp Heynckes and Günter Netzer (r.) all found the back of the net.
Gladbach: Sommer - Korb, Stranzl, Dominguez, Wendt - Jantschke, Xhaka - Hahn, Raffael, Traore - Kruse
Limassol: Vale - Stylianou, Joao Paulo, Charalambous - Robert, Meriem, Hamdani, Gullon - Thuram, Sangoy, Papoulis