bundesliga.com previews the upcoming season for a group of exciting young Foals...
After Max Kruse netted twelve goals and created the same number for the Foals in his debut season, he starts this campaign as their key man. His deceptive pace and excellent first touch, as well as his more obvious physicality, make Kruse the perfect front man for the quicker creative players lining up behind him. After missing out on a place in Germany's FIFA World Cup squad, he'll be out to showcase his abilities once again and force his way into die Nationalmannschaft for good.
The signing of Fabian Johnson demonstrates perfectly why Gladbach are a club on the rise. Favre identified the former TSG 1899 Hoffenheim star as the man to fill the revolving door of a position which was right back for the Foals last season. He has made a wise move in signing the USA star: Johnson's will ensure he fits seamlessly into Gladbach's high-pressure game, while his eye for goal has seen him find the net six times in 103 Bundesliga appearances.
Swiss tactician Lucien Favre has worked miracles since taking over at Borussia Park in February 2011. He rescued the team from relegation that season, before masterminding UEFA Champions League qualification - to the suprise of almost everyone - in 2011/12. The Foals failed to make it into the group stages, but enjoyed a fine UEFA Europa League run - a competition in which they will also compete this year. Favre has succeeded in turning Gladbach into the regular European contenders that their history befits.
Gladbach's target this campaign should be no less than Champions League qualification, but achieving that aim won't be easy. The arrivals of Johnson, Yann Sommer, Andre Hahn, Ibrahima Traore and Thorgan Hazard will provide the strength in depth that the Foals lacked last season. Meanwhile, Raffael's (pictured) creativity and experience will be as important as ever in driving a push for the coveted top four positions.
Unbeaten at home for the entirety of the first half of the 2013/14 season, the fortress Borussia Park helped to spearhead the club's ascent up the table. Indeed, between October and January, Gladbach enjoyed an unbeaten Bundesliga run of eight games. Their away record was more inconsistent, though, and despite a fantastic 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at Signal-Iduna Park in March, their form tailed off in the second half of the season to put and end to dreams of a top four finish.
The excellent Swiss keeper Sommer (pictured) will be a direct replacement for Marc-Andre ter Stegen between the sticks, while fellow newcomers Johnson and Traore will start the season in the full-back slots. FIFA World Cup winner Christoph Kramer will resume alongside Granit Xhaka in holding midfield, but despite the departure of Juan Arango, the attacking midfield is more congested: Raffael and Patrick Herrmann will compete for their starting berths with Hahn and Hazard.
A mixed pre-season has left many confused about where Borussia stand going into their first game of the season against VfB Stuttgart. Good wins over TSV 1860 München, Stade Rennais FC and FC Twente have been overshadowed by losses to FC Bayern München and Athletic Club Bilbao. The Foals' new signings, including Hazard (pictured), have all settled in quickly, with Hahn impressing in the 3-1 DFB Cup win over FC 08 Homburg by scoring the first goal.