Borussia Mönchenglachbach midfielder Denis Zakaria is enjoying the view from the Bundesliga summit at present and believes his side could be title contenders come the business end of the season.
The 22-year-old has become a cornerstone of Marco Rose’s high-flying side this term and played the full 90 minutes as the Foals beat Werder Bremen 3-1 on Matchday 11 to cement their place at the top of the standings, four points clear of second-placed RB Leipzig.
Given that it was their third win in a row and seventh in their last eight top-flight outings, confidence is understandably flowing through the squad right now and Zakaria was forthright when asked about the side’s Meisterschale credentials after the final whistle blew on Sunday. “The title? Why not?” he told bundesliga.com. “But it’s a really long road so we’re taking it game by game and we’ll see.”
Zakaria has contributed two goals and an assist from 10 starts in 2019/20, while also fulfilling the other duties expected of a box-to-box midfielder with aplomb: he has completed 88 per cent of all passes and won a hugely respectable 56 per cent of his tackles.
“We’re enjoying a really good spell right now,” the Switzerland international continued. “We’re top of the table with a four-point lead, but we need to keep working hard. If we keep doing so then we can stay top for a lot longer. Things are just going well at the moment.”
Rose, who only took charge of the side over the summer, went even further in explaining the reasons behind’s Gladbach turbo-charged form: “The boys believe in themselves and our philosophy and they’re enjoying it, which is also important.
"As league leaders you have to be able to withstand difficult periods in a game and things are going our way right now – but that’s something we’ve earned because the boys have worked very hard for it.”
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Sporting director Max Eberl, meanwhile, highlighted the players’ mental strength as a factor in them being top of the pile: “The players are playing with the right conviction at the moment. They don’t let themselves get thrown off course if they concede a goal or if someone gets injured. The players that come in know what to do and do their job very well. The team performances and team spirit are absolutely brilliant.”
There is no arguing with that, even if they are heading into some potentially season-defining fixtures. Gladbach’s only two league defeats this term have come against RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund, and whether or not they can really claim their first Bundesliga title since 1977 is therefore likely to rest on performances and results and other big teams.
As such, that makes their schedule after the November international break all the more intriguing, as two of their next three Bundesliga assignments are against sides in the top four: at home to both Freiburg and Bayern Munich.