Mönchengladbach - Saturday's 2-1 victory over Lower Rhine rivals Fortuna Düsseldorf edged Borussia Mönchengladbach closer to the European spots, with the Foals now trailing sixth-placed FC Schalke 04 on goal difference alone.
Foals on the right track
Riding the crest of a seven-game unbeaten wave, it looks like a revolutionised Gladbach side have finally clicked, and the rest of the league should be taking note. Only FC Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have lost fewer games this season.
Two goals in the first 15 minutes laid the foundations for Saturday’s victory, and even though Fortuna reduced the arrears in the second half, Borussia’s new-found self-confidence was barely shaken, as they missed a hatful of chances to make the win even more comfortable. After a goalless draw in the first game in Düsseldorf last September, the three points also gave Borussia's fans the all-important bragging rights in this fixture, as just 29 km separate the two cities.
“We’ve picked up four points and not lost in nine games, and that is a run we plan on extending,” said defensive midfielder who himself has extended his stay with the club by two years, so convinced he is in the club delivering on its potential. “After the difficult start to the season, we’ve focused on the basics again,” he added. “Last year, our strong defence was our trademark and everybody helped out. We usually manage something going forwards, so if you don’t concede, then logically you’re going to be successful.”
Doing the basics right
The statistics confirm that logic. Mönchengladbach leaked 16 goals in the first eight games of the season, but just eleven in as many matches since, picking up 20 points in the process. “If we can earn as many points in the second half of the campaign as we did in the first, we will have played a good season,” said Patrick Herrmann, who became the club’s second top goalscorer behind Juan Arango with his strike on Saturday.
That is unlikely to be enough for a place in Europe however, which is why Marx revised his team-mate’s target. “I hope we can make up one or two places in the league,” he said. “We’re seeing right now how much fun it is to play in Europe, and if we have the chance to do it all over again, then we want to take it.”
So too do at least ten of Gladbach’s rivals, but with another three points on order against struggling 1.FC Nuremberg next weekend, Lucien Favre’s men might fancy their chances of being one of the successful six to fly the Bundesliga flag around the continent again in September.
After effectively losing the backbone of their side last summer with the departure of Marco Reus, Dante and Roman Neustädter, Gladbach class of 2013 seem to be starting to shape up nicely. They have also negotiated their Europa League duties this season with admirable application thus far. A second successive European finish would help confirm their return to the upper echelons of German football.