Mönchengladbach - An enthralling all-Borussia duel on Saturday afternoon (kick-off 15.30 CEST) sees Borussia Mönchengladbach, unbeaten at home this season, host a Borussia Dortmund side enjoying their best-ever start to a campaign.
'Difficult to defend against'
Mönchengladbach are looking forward to a return to home comforts after picking up their first point away from home against FC Augsburg on Matchday 7, while BVB come into this game following a notable 3-0 win over Olympique de Marseille in the UEFA Champions League. Coach Jürgen Klopp had to watch that game from the stands, which was apparently “not as pleasant as the touchline”, and will return to the technical area for what amounts to his side’s toughest league test so far this season.
Credited with masterminding Gladbach’s Bundesliga resurgence, Swiss head coach Lucien Favre had words of warning for his side ahead of their clash with the league leaders. "There’s probably no other team who transition and counter as well as BVB,” said the 55-year-old. “Although you know it’s coming, it makes it difficult to defend against. Our own qualities make us confident though.”
Favre, after all, has a rather fearsome quartet leading the line in Max Kruse, Raffael, Juan Arango and Patrick Herrmann. The foursome have contributed ten of the the Foals’ 17 goals this season, the second most in the league. Of those 17, three have been scored and one assisted by Borussia’s Brazilian Raffael, who was magnanimous in his praise for Dortmund ahead of Saturday afternoon’s game, describing them as “one of the best teams in the world” and adding that “everyone wants to play against teams of their quality”.
Klopp was hardly getting complacent despite the plaudits, and highlighted Raffael and Max Kruse as Gladbach's danger-men in his pre-match press conference, due to their "excellent movement and danger in front of goal". It has been a busy week for the Dortmund coach, who saw his European ban extended, but despite the distractions, Dortmund are “concentrating completely on Gladbach” who have been “playing well and producing good, high-quality football”.
Marco Reus was a key figure for Gladbach between 2009 and 2012, scoring 37 goals in 99 appearances, before a completing summer move to then-reigning champions Dortmund. Reus came back to haunt his old side a few months after the move, scoring twice in a 5-0 victory, but was less influential in the 1-1 draw in Borussia Park in February. This season the 24-year-old has registered four goals and three assists in die Schwarzgelben's unbeaten start, which has seen them establish an early grip on top spot in the Bundesliga.
However, Dortmund will be without an array of key players at the unwelcoming Borussia Park. Ilkay Gündogan remains sidelined with a back problem, and first-choice full-backs Lukasz Piszczek (hip) and Marcel Schmelzer (thigh) are also unavailable.
Gladbach have fewer injury problems to contend with, as only Belgian defender Filip Daems remains unavailable for Favre. The return of holding midfielder Granit Xhaka from suspension will likely be the only change to the side, as the Foals go in search of fourth-straight win on home soil in what promises to be a fiercely-contested encounter with the table-toppers.
Borussia Mönchengladbach: ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl, Alvaro Dominguez, Wendt - Nordtveit, G. Xhaka - Herrmann, Arango - Raffael, M. Kruse
Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller - Großkreutz, Sokratis, Hummels, Durm - S. Bender, Sahin - Blaszczykowski, H. Mkhitaryan, Reus - Lewandowski