Christoph Kramer applauded fans after Gladbach held Bayern to a 0-0 draw on Matchday 9 in a game in which he excelled
Christoph Kramer applauded fans after Gladbach held Bayern to a 0-0 draw on Matchday 9 in a game in which he excelled

christoph Kramer: Gladbach's leader

Mönchengladbach - Borussia Mönchengladbach came the closest anyone has come in a long time to inflicting a Bundesliga defeat on FC Bayern München on Matchday 9.

Mr Reliability

That goal did not come, at either end, yet it was nevertheless a spectacular 0-0 draw at the Borussia-Park between two sides that are also flying the Bundesliga flag proudly in the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League this season.

On Sunday Gladbach showed it is no coincidence they are rubbing shoulders with the best. Bayern custodian Manuel Neuer may have stolen the headlines after salvaging a point for the record titleholders with a series of stunning saves, but the driving force behind a hugely impressive Borussia side - and one of the best players on the pitch - was 23-year-old midfielder Christoph Kramer.

Foals fans have grown used to witnessing Kramer deliver top-class performances every week for Gladbach now. While his role may not involve scoring or making goals, he is well on the way to guaranteeing himself a place in the Foals' folklore after maturing to a staggering degree in the last 12 months.

Rise to stardom

Indeed, it almost beggars belief that this is only his second season in Germany's top flight. After starring for Bundesliga 2 side VfL Bochum in 2012/13, the 23-year-old seized his opportunity in the Bundesliga last season, helping his club to a place in the UEFA Europa League. That was only the beginning, however.

It was 13 May 2014 when Kramer was picked by Germany coach Joachim Löw to make his debut in a friendly against Poland. The encounter ended goalless but Kramer did enough to earn himself a spot in Germany's pre-World Cup training camp. He was then nominated in the final 23 for Brazil, and, quite incredibly, started the final against Argentina in Rio de Janeiro on 13 July.

Outstanding against Bayern

The midfielder might not remember too much of his involvement in that historic game at the Maracana, but the concussion he suffered against the South Americans has not left any lasting mark. "He really developed a lot at the World Cup and has become a real leader," said Gladbach coach Lucien Favre, who had no qualms about giving the relatively inexperienced youngster a leading role in his side back in the summer of 2013.

Against Bayern last weekend, Kramer covered more ground (12.7 km) and had more touches of the ball (49) than any other Foals player, and arguably won his midfield battle with Bayern's midfield metronome Xabi Alonso, especially in the second half. His display typified the hard-working approach that has ensured Gladbach remain unbeaten this term, as well as giving encouragement to the rest of the league that the men from Munich can be matched.

'Table doesn't lie'

Unsurprisingly, the Bayer 04 Leverkusen loanee was highly satisfied with his day's work. "When you play teams like Bayern, just one small mistake gets punished," he said afterwards. "We made sure that for the whole 90 minutes we didn't make any mistakes, and that's why we deserve this point. We even created the best chances and If Bayern hadn't had Neuer in goal, they'd have conceded a couple."

Now unbeaten in 15 games unbeaten in all competitions, Favre's men have every right to be where they are - second in the table - and not even the mighty FC Bayern, fresh from an intimidating 7-1 win at AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League could end that record. "The table doesn't lie after nine matches," concluded Kramer. "We're currently the second best team in Germany."

Tobias Gonscherowski / Adapted by Ben Gladwell

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