Bundesliga leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach can be quietly confident of keeping Edin Dzeko quiet and recording their first win in UEFA Europa League Group J when they take on AS Roma at Borussia-Park on Thursday. bundesliga.com has the particulars…
1) They're still the Bundesliga pacesetters
Gladbach have won both of their league matches since earning a draw against Roma in Italy, meaning they will be full of confidence ahead of their second meeting with Paulo Fonseca’s side. After ten Bundesliga matches, Marco Rose has his side leading last season's runners-up Borussia Dortmund by three points at the top of the table.
The Foals are also the Bundesliga's fourth-highest scorers (21 goals), and boast the division's second-meanest defence (10 conceded).
“It’s always fun to be a Foal but especially at the moment because we’re playing really well and we’ve been winning a lot of games,” said Oscar Wendt, who scored in the 2-1 weekend win at Bayer Leverkusen.
Having just condemned Leverkusen to a first home defeat of the season in the Bundesliga, Gladbach will now look to draw level with group leaders Roma by ending their unbeaten start to the Europa League.
Watch: How Marco Rose has transformed Gladbach into Bundesliga leaders
2) Talismanic Thuram
Three players have shared 12 of Gladbach's 21 Bundesliga goals in 2019/20. Frenchman Alassane Plea was the club's top scorer last season with 12, and he has picked up where he left off by getting four goals and as many assists this term. Breel Embolo, a summer signing from Schalke, has netted three. Both of those players have been injured of late, however, meaning that more responsibility has been placed on the shoulders of France U21 international Marcus Thuram.
September's Bundesliga Rookie of the Month has dealt with the pressure brilliantly, though, scoring in each of his last three matches. On Saturday in Leverkusen, Thuram made the opening goal for Wendt before getting the winner himself. That brings the former Guingamp attacker’s tally to five goals and four assists in 10 league games, while the 22-year-old also scored twice in the DFB Cup in what is his first season in German football. Roma, in contrast, will be counting on former Wolfsburg striker Dzeko. A Bundesliga winner in 2008/09 and the league’s leading goalscorer a year later, he has a quarter of Roma’s 20 Serie A goals this season.
3) The Stindl factor
Gladbach have held on to top spot in the Bundesliga despite a number of personnel issues. Laszlo Benes sat out the Leverkusen match with flu, for example, while fellow midfielder Denis Zakaria was given a breather and started from the bench.
“The nice thing it that we have a large pool of players that we have 100 per cent trust in,” Rose said after the game. “The boys make it easy for me because they take on the challenges so well.”
The quality and depth of Gladbach’s squad has been on show in recent Europa League outings as well. On Matchday 2 Patrick Herrmann came on to secure his team’s first point in Group J with an injury-time equaliser away to Istanbul Basaksehir. Club captain Lars Stindl, who made his comeback in October following a six-month absence with a broken shin, did likewise in the first meeting with Roma. The Germany international kept his cool from the penalty spot in Italy on Matchday 3, coming off the bench to earn a 1-1 draw in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
That decisive contribution once again underlined the 31-year-old’s pedigree on the European stage. Stindl now has 13 goals and 11 assists in his 39 appearances in UEFA competition to date, including a hat-trick against Fiorentina in the 2016/17 Europa League round of 32.
4) Rose's Europa League track record
Like Stindl, Rose has previous in the Europa League. Gladbach's coveted young tactician made a name for himself across the border in Austria with Red Bull Salzburg, winning the UEFA Youth League before being promoted to the top job in 2017/18. During a famous two-season spell, he led the club to back-to-back Austrian Bundesliga titles, whilst accounting for the likes of Dortmund and Roma's city rivals, Lazio, en route to the 2017/18 Europa League semi-finals. Salzburg's 21 goals set a Europa League group stage record that year, and they were at it again the following campaign before losing out to Napoli by the odd goal in the round of 16. Rose's overall competition record reads: won 15, drawn seven, lost five.
5) Roma’s travel sickness in Germany
Traditionally strong at home, Gladbach’s loss to Wolfsberger on Matchday 1 appears to have been nothing more than a blip on the road for Rose’s swiftly developing side. The Foals have won their last three games at Borussia-Park, scoring 11 goals in the process in victories over Fortuna Düsseldorf, Augsburg and Eintracht Frankfurt. Roma are in good form themselves, sitting third in Serie A after three wins in succession. While they may be unbeaten away from home this season, however, they have rarely enjoyed their trips to Germany. The Italians have lost on 10 of their 13 visits, and have one draw and three defeats from their last four matches there.