Matchday 17 sees European rivals Granit Xhaka's (2nd l.) Mönchengladbach and Diego's (2nd r.) Wolfsburg face off at the Borussia Park
Matchday 17 sees European rivals Granit Xhaka's (2nd l.) Mönchengladbach and Diego's (2nd r.) Wolfsburg face off at the Borussia Park

Wolves on the hunt at fortress Borussia

Mönchengladbach - Emerging top-four candidates Borussia Mönchengladbach and VfL Wolfsburg serve up the final dose of Bundesliga action this calendar year in a Sunday afternoon spectacle guaranteed to warm those winter cockles (kick-off 15:30 CET).

'All about three points'

Gladbach boast a spotless record on home turf this season and a ninth successive victory at Borussia Park would see them end 2013 in third place, following Borussia Dortmund’s earlier slip-up against Hertha Berlin.

“My players are very focussed ahead of the match and they’re just thinking about the game,” affirmed Foals head coach Lucien Favre. “We want to produce a very good performance before we go into the winter break […] It’s all about taking three points from a direct rival.”

With the Wolves snapping at their heels down in fifth, however, Favre knows full well what to expect from an encounter that could have a big say in the make-up of the top four come May. “We know how strong their squad is,” he continued. “They’re really dangerous.”

'We want to win'

Borussia, though, are hardly a side that take many prisoners themselves. Indeed, only twice before have they amassed a higher number of points (36) than their current tally (32) at this stage in the campaign when, back in 1976/1977 and 1969/1970, they went on to lift the Bundesliga title.

“Gladbach have a great deal of quality going forward, but I consider us to be at the same level as the are and we want to confirm that with a good performance,” explained Favre’s counterpart in the dugout this Sunday, Dieter Hecking. “We want to win in Gladbach - that has to be our target. It would be even nicer to go into the winter break with a further three points to our name.”

'A long way to go'

Should Hecking get his wish, not only would the Wolves finish the year level on points with fourth-placed Gladbach; they would do so having recorded their highest ever return after 17 matches, usurping their 26-point haul at the same juncture of 2008/09’s famous championship-winning campaign.

“We’ve had a good first half to the season, but we haven’t achieved anything yet,” Hecking warned. “If at the end of 34 games, we are still taking about the best season in VfL history following the title win, then we will be very happy and enjoy the moment. We have a long way to go until then, mind.”

Possible line-ups:

Gladbach: ter Stegen - Korb, Jantschke, Stranzl, Wendt - Kramer, G. Xhaka - Herrmann, Arango - Raffael - M. Kruse

Wolfsburg: Benaglio - Ochs, Naldo, Knoche, Rodriguez - Luiz Gustavo, Medojevic - Diego, Arnold, D. Caligiuri - Olic

Christopher Mayer-Lodge