Borussia’s 3-0 win over Hannover 96 was sandwiched in between two defeats, although they were away at FC Bayern Munich and Bayer 04 Leverkusen. Back on home soil, the Foals are looking to claim the scalp of another northern club.
Sporting director Max Eberl commented this week that he feels too much has been made of their two losses from the opening three games. "We’ve played against two of the three top German teams away from home and played well each time,” he said. “Unfortunately, we failed to pick up any points, but to say now that we are under pressure against Werder and that we have to win is not the way I see it.”
The league table may have Gladbach down in tenth and Bremen sixth, but Eberl thinks it is much too early for the standings to give any kind of telling indication. “The first summary can only really be made after six or seven games,” Eberl said. “Then you can say what direction things are going in.”
Finding a balance
For Gladbach's season to look a promising one in a few weeks time they first have to succeed in breaking down the league’s minimalists. Bremen won their first two games of the season 1-0 and were beaten by that very same scoreline against Borussia Dortmund last week. “It’s going to be hard work,” predicted Borussia coach Lucien Favre. “Bremen run, fight and are very well organised. When they lose possession, all of their players get back.”
“We've got to ensure we don’t lose our organisation when we attack them," continued the former Hertha Berlin boss, who with the likes of Juan Arango, Patrick Herrmann, Raffael and Max Kruse in his side, certainly does not lack the talent to get at the Bremen back line. “It’s important that we find the right balance quickly.”
Not just about goals
His counterpart Robin Dutt appears to have found already found that balance after only a few months in charge, and symptomatic of it is striker Nils Petersen. The 24-year-old may not have found the back of the net yet this season, but his efforts have not gone unnoticed. “Nils is an absolute team player,” says Dutt. “He enjoys a very high status here. He is and remains an important first-team regular.”
Over 1,200 minutes have passed since the former FC Bayern forward found the net, but his contribution to the team is crucial even without the goals. “It’s good for a striker when he is not only judged on goals. Nils knows he can still play for us without goals.”
Marko Arnautovic and Aaron Hunt should help him in that regard and Dutt, who is set to preside over a Bundesliga game for the 100th time as a coach, believes they, like the rest of his side, could take a leaf out of Gladbach’s book.
“Lucien Favre has done a great job at Borussia,” he said. “He has shown how to lead a team to the top step by step. Gladbach have developed incredibly well under him and are once again candidates for a place in Europe this season.”
Gladbach: ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl, Alvaro Dominguez, Daems - Kramer, Xhaka - Herrmann, Arango - Raffael, Kruse
Bremen: Mielitz - Fritz, Prödl, Caldirola, Gebre Selassie - Junuzovic, Makiadi, Ekici - Arnautovic, Hunt, Petersen