Mönchengladbach - Most observers might have predicted that at least one 'Borussia' would be as high as third in the standings at the halfway stage of the season. Altogether fewer, however, would have picked Mönchengladbach to be that club.
Nevertheless, such is the current outlook of the league table, and such is the quality with which Borussia Mönchengladbach have performed this term. Were the season to end now, the Foals would be assured of a place in the UEFA Champions League group stage next season, while Dortmund, league champions in 2011 and 2012, would be the ones needing a play-off to reach the tournament group stages. As Borussia can attest from their heart-breaking play-off defeat to Dynamo Kyiv 18 months ago, progression is by no means a foregone conclusion.
"We want to stay near the top of the table so that we're happy not just now but at the end of the season as well," said . "In my opinion, we deserve to be among the league's top teams after the first half of the season." The statistics do not betray that feeling either. With eight wins and one draw at the Borussia Park alone, Gladbach have most certainly become a force to be reckoned with.
A run of six victories in a row after losing at Hertha Berlin catapulted Lucien Favre's side into the top three, and not even two draws to end 2013 saw them dislodged. They are playing the kind of exciting counter-attacking football which took the Bundesliga by storm in 2011/12 and earned them fourth spot, only now they have gained a degree of consistency to boot.
Wendt is one of the beneficiaries of this style of play, getting his own name on the scoresheet having finally come to terms with what Favre is looking for in his full-backs. "What a feeling!" he said in an interview with Kicker magazine. "Finding a route to goal and getting in a shot is part of my game." That facet is now coming to fruition with the Swedish international revelling in his role.
"We play the right style to suit our squad," added the 28-year-old. "We keep the ball well, move around a lot and we have a lot of players who can turn defence into attack. For us full-backs, it's easier to get involved going forward when we have more of the ball." It is a style of play that comes naturally to Wendt, who learned his trade under former 1. FC Köln coach Stale Solbakken at FC Kobenhavn, where attack was certainly the best form of defence.
Bundesliga and Borussia 'just right'
"Our game there was practically 70 per cent attacking," Wendt says of his time in Denmark. "We were very dominant in the league and I had to adjust my style of play a little when I arrived in the Bundesliga because all the teams play on the same level here and everybody has a lot of quality in the attack. I can safely say that I've become a better player at Borussia."
That partly comes from joining a league with a higher standard of football. "I count the Bundesliga among the best in the world," he says. "I had the feeling from day one that things were just right between me and Borussia." Wendt started 13 times in the first half of the season, scoring three goals and creating another, and with his explosive runs down the left combined with the solidity of emerging talent of Julian Korb on the right, Gladbach appear to have found a fine blend indeed. FC Bayern are the next visitors to the Borussia Park, and the side top of the league by seven points may just find that their first away trip of 2014 is also their toughest.