Bundesliga Review – Surprise Package Gladbach Fade From Title Race

It’s been a while since Borussia Mönchengladbach were in title contention. The last time the Foals won the Bundesliga was in 1977. However, after a goalless draw against Freiburg on the weekend, their chances of winning the title have all but evaporated.

“You have to work hard to stop Gladbach playing their football and really put the hard yards in. That we did.”

These were the words of Freiburg’s coach Christian Streich after Saturday’s encounter and it acknowledges what tough opposition Gladbach have become over the last 12 months. Their rapid rise from paupers to princes in terms of league position has been well highlighted and rightly so.

Lucien Favre has hardly made any personnel changes, relying in the main on players who were already at the club. It’s a tactic which has worked effectively too. However, Saturday was a fantastic opportunity to claw back ground on Borussia Dortmund as they slipped to a 0-0 draw themselves at Augsburg. It wasn’t taken.

In this lies Gladbach’s weakness. They are the Bundesliga’s best counter-attacking team. As a result, at times when they have needed to take the initiative themselves, the Foals haven’t managed to do so. No win in their last three is hardly calamitous but opponents seemed to have worked out that if they drop deeper, Gladbach can’t work their counter-attacking wizardry to its full extent. Granted, they would have been helped on Saturday by having Patrick Hermann, who was missing due to a broken collarbone. However, the proof is in their results.

In the five games so far against fellow members of the top four, Gladbach have won three, drawn one and lost one. However, none of the four teams they’ve dropped points against in 2012 currently reside in the top eight of the Bundesliga. The latest team to stop them, Freiburg, deserve credit for their resolute display on Saturday. It meant the club above Gladbach, Bayern Munich, were able to pull away whilst the side below, Schalke, managed to gain ground.

Bayern have been bipolar of late – abysmal away, almighty at the Allianz Arena.It was certainly a case of the latter on Saturday as a very poor Hoffenheim team were swept aside ruthlessly. Winning 7-1 would be most sides highest victory of the season but this ranked as Bayern’s second biggest margin in the campaign. What’s not surprising is that Mario Gomez grabbed another hat-trick in this demolition as Munich went three points ahead of Gladbach.

Schalke weren’t as majestic in Gelsenkirchen. The Royal Blues still settled the game in quick fashion, racing into a three goal lead after just over half an hour. Teemu Pukki, deputising for Raul, grabbed the first before Christoph Metzelder and their top scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar settled the encounter. Hamburg pulled a goal back at the end of the first half but Schalke held on to move within a point of Borussia Mönchengladbach.

The Foals must stay upbeat with nine games left. If they hold it together, Gladbach will be playing in the Champions League next season albeit without Marco Reus and Roman Neustadter who have agreed moves to Borussia Dortmund and Schalke respectively. Nevertheless, everyone at the club can take pride in putting Borussia Mönchengladbach into the title race for the first time in the 21st century. At this stage though, it doesn’t appear it will be anything more than title contention for the Foals.

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Matchday 25 Results:

Stuttgart 0-0 Kaiserslautern

Bayern Munich 7-1 Hoffenheim

Cologne 1-0 Hertha Berlin

Gladbach 0-0 Freiburg

Mainz 2-1 Nuremberg

Wolfsburg 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen

Augsburg 0-0 Borussia Dortmund

Werder Bremen 3-0 Hannover

Schalke 3-1 Hamburg

Bundesliga Table
Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* PTS*
1 Borussia Dortmund 25 17 5 3 52:16 +36 56 CL*
2 FC Bayern Munich 25 16 3 6 58:17 +41 51 CL*
3 Borussia Mönchengladbach 25 14 6 5 37:15 +22 48 CL*
4 FC Schalke 04 25 15 2 8 54:33 +21 47 CL* Qual.
5 Bayer 04 Leverkusen 25 11 7 7 38:32 +6 40 EL* Qual.
6 SV Werder Bremen 25 11 6 8 40:38 +2 39 EL* Qual.
7 Hannover 96 25 8 11 6 30:35 -5 35
8 VfB Stuttgart 25 9 6 10 41:33 +8 33
9 1. FC Nuremberg 25 9 4 12 24:34 -10 31
10 VfL Wolfsburg 25 9 4 12 31:46 -15 31
11 1. FSV Mainz 05 25 7 9 9 37:39 -2 30
12 1899 Hoffenheim 25 7 9 9 28:35 -7 30
13 1. FC Köln 25 8 4 13 32:46 -14 28
14 Hamburger SV 25 6 9 10 29:45 -16 27
15 FC Augsburg 25 4 11 10 25:39 -14 23
16 Hertha BSC Berlin 25 5 8 12 26:41 -15 23 Play-offs
17 SC Freiburg 25 5 7 13 30:52 -22 22 Relegation
18 1. FC Kaiserslautern 25 3 11 11 16:32 -16 20 Relegation

Table thanks to Bundesliga Official Website