Back on course to qualify for Europe next season, Borussia Mönchengladbach are hoping current form can ensure they keep their European adventure alive in the current campaign when playing host to Sevilla FC in their penultimate UEFA Champions League Group D fixture.
Despite putting in two impressive performances against Juventus, Italy’s Old Lady ended Gladbach’s hopes of reaching the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition. Victory on Wednesday, however, would represent a significant step in securing UEFA Europa League football in the new year.
'Need to keep believing'
After losing their opening five Bundesliga games, as well as their first two outings at Europe’s top table, Gladbach’s turnaround has been nothing short of spectacular. “That’s how football is,” explained Ibrahima Traore after scoring in the 2-1 win over Hannover 96 on Matchday 13. “No one would‘ve thought that we’d start the season so poorly. Now it’s not that surprising that we’re playing good football again and regularly picking up points. You just have to keep working through the tough times.”
Recent results have made those tough times seem like a distant memory in certain respects, but the players are refusing to get carried away, with Traore claiming that the side “need to keep believing” in order to reach their targets for the season, which include a long-run in Europe. “We try to win every game,” said the 27-year-old. “Of foremost importance is that we win the Champions League match against Sevilla and not to dwell on thoughts of [qualifying for] the Champions League next year.”
Looking to make amends
While their run of eight games unbeaten in the Bundesliga under new head coach Andre Schubert has instilled a confidence in the team that was sorely lacking at the start of the season, Sevilla have proven a bogey team for Borussia in recent times. The 3-0 win in the Foals’ first game since ending their 37-year absence from the Champions League was preceded by a 4-2 aggregate loss in the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 last season.
However, Traore is confident that Gladbach can put those results behind them providing they do not let the situation get to them. “When you put too much pressure on yourselves against teams like Sevilla then things go wrong,” concluded Guinea international. “We have a lot of self-belief at the moment, while Sevilla aren’t performing that well in the league. We’re at home and will give everything to win. We’ve shown that we have European pedigree. A win is crucial to secure Europa League football.”