Any game that produces six goals is going to drum up plenty of interest, but it is for an altogether different and rather unusual reason that Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 3-3 draw with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim has received so much post-match attention.
With the Foals trailing hosts Hoffenheim 3-2 after 80 minutes, Gladbach head coach Andre Schubert presented substitute Nico Elvedi with a couple of scraps of paper to hand to captain Granit Xhaka and forward Lars Stindl. We can only surmise what message the 44-year-old wanted to get across to his players, but it obviously worked. Fabian Johnson equalised with his second of the afternoon seven minutes later to send the travelling Gladbach faithful into raptures.
"If you read it, it's clear what you have to do, there was nothing Harry Potter about it," Schubert explained after extending his unbeaten streak as a Bundesliga coach to nine matches (seven wins, two draws). As he once told an Italian journalist when quizzed on his blinding start to life in the Gladbach hot seat: "We don’t have a magic wand or any magic spells. The only magic is out on the pitch."
That is certainly the case at never-say-die Gladbach, who appeared for all the world to be heading for their first Bundesliga defeat of the Schubert era on Saturday. Hoffenheim were already 3-1 up after 47 minutes, only for second-half goals from Josip Drmic and Johnson to rescue a draw and cap an emotional week following a maiden UEFA Champions League group stage win over Sevilla FC four days earlier.
Schubert’s acid test
As Schubert touched on in his post-match appraisal, Gladbach do not possess supernatural powers or a secret book of spells. They get results through hard graft and good football: two qualities that were severely lacking when the Kassel native replaced Lucien Favre, initially on an interim basis, nine weeks ago. "The team has a big heart and extraordinary willpower," he enthused. "To pull together like that after the week we’ve had is really something."
Gladbach will be suitably rested by the time they next step out at the BORUSSIA-PARK on Matchday 15. The Foals have not lost on their own patch in the Bundesliga since the Matchday 4 defeat to Hamburger SV, but Schubert knows full well he will have his work cut out to keep his unbowed run intact against defending champions FC Bayern München. "They’re one of the best three teams in the world, but it’s going to be fun regardless of the outcome," he admitted. "We want to get right under their skins."
If that does not work, Schubert is bound to have one or two other tricks up his sleeve - sorcerer’s hat or not.