As a manager, being able to get the best out of your players is pivotal but it’s something Lucien Favre has managed to do in the Rhineland. He could not have dreamt of the position Borussia Monchengladbach currently find themselves in when he took the reins just over nine months ago.
Back then Die Fohlen (The Foals) were sitting rock bottom of the Bundesliga. After a 3-1 loss on the road to St Pauli, in stepped Favre who secured what seemed an improbable survival with a victory in the relegation play off against Bochum.
Momentum has been the key for Gladbach as they have discovered their joie de vivre under Favre. Since his arrival, they’ve won 15 out of 26 matches, including Friday’s 3-0 dismantling of fierce rivals Cologne.
Mike Hanke took a rare starring role for the title chasers as on many occasion he has selflessly sacrificed much for the team. However, Hanke was rewarded with a two goal haul against the Billy Goats. Venezuelan Captain Juan Arango netted the other with a delightful curling free kick, enhancing the reputation of his cultured left foot.
When talking about Gladbach, it’s impossible not to mention Marco Reus. He was prominent in Friday night’s victory despite not getting on the score sheet but in Favre’s time in power, “Rolls Reus” has been pivotal.
So there Borussia Monchengladbach remained proudly on top of the Bundesliga before Borussia Dortmund rained on their parade. They dispatched Schalke 2-0 in the Revierderby, meaning the Foals dropped to second. Nevertheless, their progress should assure those at the bottom what can be achieved with some momentum.
Results over the weekend suggest Gladbach’s fighting spirit from last season lives on at the foot of the table as three of the bottom five secured victories. Those who didn’t, Freiburg and Hamburg, gained valuable draws. The latter, gradually slinking away from the trap door, is certainly a club with the prowess to reach Lucien Favre’s side dizzy heights.
Newly promoted Augsburg finally gained their first home win in the Bundesliga with a 2-0 win against Wolfsburg. Nuremberg also overcame sinking Kaiserslautern but the result of the weekend goes to Mainz. Thomas Tuchel’s men roared out the traps last season with seven consecutive wins but after a summer of transition, they have flattered to deceive this season – until now.
They slipped past Bayern Munich 3-2. Their illustrious visitors have now suffered back-to-back defeats in the Bundesliga. For long periods last season, Mainz were the darlings of the Bundesliga but Gladbach, seemingly assuming this role, appear to have more about them than their south-western counterparts.
Their story is certainly one for football romantics – how a team fighting for survival one season can go to title chasers in the next which is what makes the Bundesliga so endearing. Whilst teams should take encouragement from Monchengladbach’s revival, Lucien Favre will be searching for something to inspire his side onto title glory. Judging by his unblemished reign so far, he won’t find that too difficult. He came close with Hertha Berlin when they came fourth in 2009.
“We learned a lot from last season. We learned that we can beat anyone if we just believe in ourselves.”
These are the words of Marco Reus speaking to Eurosport 2. It’s worth noting though how Reus says ‘we.’ Ultimately though, “he” is very important to their chances as well.
As long as Marco Reus stays at the club and keeps fit, anything is possible for Gladbach.
Goal of the Weekend
Have a look at this terrific strike from Hannover’s Jan Schlaudraff. This was the equaliser in Hannover’s 1-1 draw with Hamburg and he couldn’t have hit this any sweeter.
For more musings on the Bundesliga, follow me @arhindtutt
Matchday 14 Results:
Cologne 0-3 Gladbach
Augsburg 2-0 Wolfsburg
Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Schalke
Hertha Berlin 3-3 Leverkusen
Hoffenheim 1-1 Freiburg
Nuremberg 1-0 Kaiserslautern
Hannover 1-1 Hamburg
Werder Bremen 2-0 Stuttgart
Mainz 3-2 Bayern Munich
|3||FC Bayern Munich||14||9||1||4||34:8||+26||28||CL*|
|4||SV Werder Bremen||14||8||2||4||25:21||+4||26||CL* Qual.|
|5||FC Schalke 04||14||8||1||5||28:20||+8||25||EL* Qual.|
|6||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||14||6||4||4||20:19||+1||22||EL* Qual.|
|10||Hertha BSC Berlin||14||4||6||4||21:22||-1||18|
|11||1. FC Köln||13||5||1||7||20:29||-9||16|
|13||1. FSV Mainz 05||13||4||3||6||19:25||-6||15|
|14||1. FC Nuremberg||14||4||3||7||14:24||-10||15|
|16||1. FC Kaiserslautern||14||3||4||7||10:18||-8||13||Play-offs|
Table thanks to Bundesliga Official Website