Hamburg - Max Kruse has a sixth sense, one which has produced seven goals this season, including his first brace for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 2-0 victory away from home against a resurgent Hamburger SV.
'Obviously stands out'
Crucially for the deceptive Gladbach, it was their first win away from Borussia Park since 11 May, 2013, and was marked by a special performance from a man at the vanguard of a thrilling Foals side. “You just get a feeling,” said Kruse of anticipating a Lasse Sobiech's misplaced pass to round Rene Adler and open the scoring. “You know when such a ball is going to be played and sometimes it comes off.”
For a man who played for two of Hamburg’s biggest rivals, SV Werder Bremen and FC St. Pauli, the brace took on a special significance, which he made no attempts to downplay. “Scoring goals is always fun,” acknowledged the 25-year-old. “And scoring my first Gladbach brace against Hamburg, well obviously that stands out.”
Although Kruse will deservedly take top billing for another superlative display, there were ten others who made the win possible. Gladbach’s team performance was superbly executed, closing down space, hitting on the break and demonstrating why they could be the dark horse for the final UEFA Champions League qualifying spot. “We didn’t concede - that was what was most important today,” said Hamburg’s nemesis after the game. “We were very compact and hard to break down, I thought we were very good.”
The Foals' campaign has been built at fortress Borussia Park, but missing three points away from home. “We wanted to add a gloss to last week’s victory over Eintracht Frankfurt,” noted Kruse. “We’ve finally picked up a reward on the road for our performances.” The victory against Frankfurt was their fifth successive home win, a run which has included victories over Hannover 96 and Borussia Dortmund, but the success in Hamburg eradicated what could have become an albatross around a foal's neck.
As Kruse acknowledged, Gladbach’s defence have played their part. They have only conceded three goals at home all season and picked up their first clean sheet on the road in Hamburg, but it has been the forward play which has truly caught the eye. Kruse’s relationship with fellow attackers Juan Arango, Raffael and Patrick Herrmann is scribing a fresh chapter in a club history book storied with great attackers.
'Game by game'
It might not just be Kruse who has a sixth sense, such is the telepathic link-up being displayed by the quartet at times. Arango’s early cross could have been converted by Kruse against Hamburg, and it is interesting to note that Kruse, Herrmann and Raffael share the shooting burden, while Arango provides the service (three crosses and 33 passes).
It is a foursome which has lifted Gladbach to fourth, with 19 points from eleven games, a point clear of VfL Wolfsburg in fifth, and two clear of FC Schalke 04 in sixth. Is Kruse thinking about showing his considerable talents on a continental stage next season? “No, no, no, I’m not thinking that far ahead,” he answered. “We’re looking at it game by game, which means next week against 1. FC Nürnberg.” Whether his sixth sense is telling him something different is another matter entirely.
Check out the highlights from one of Gladbach's greatest sides on the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: