Our series of 2015-16 mid-season reviews continues with a look at revitalised Bundesliga outfit Borussia Monchengladbach.
Story So Far
Die Fohlen started the season in wretched form, with their 4-0 opening day defeat to Borussia Dortmund paving the way for them to lose their first five games in the league. Bottom of the table after five weeks and bottom of their Champions League group, it was time for change and fan favourite Lucien Favre took it upon himself to voluntarily vacate the manager’s position.
Former under 21’s coach Andre Schubert took over the post, and the Foals began a 10-match undefeated streak in the Bundesliga, culminating in a sensational 3-1 victory over heavyweights Bayern Munich. Two losses to Bayer Leverkusen and a dumping out of Europe saw spirits fall slightly in the last few weeks, however, a final league victory over Darmstadt saw them still finish in fourth before the break, an almost unfathomable result earlier in the season.
Schubert took over the side and instantly made changes, without altering the side entirely. Minor adjustments in play-style, rather than actual formation saw Gladbach become more forward in their approach, using an active strategy of pressing rather than sitting back and channeling as a defensive line. This approach worked well, with opponents having found out and taken apart their previously well-known style under Favre.
Schubert’s rapport with the player’s clearly grew quickly as his influence grew, and the passion visible between them showed that the team was definitely headed in the right direction.
Initially only appointed in an interim role, it did not take long for the higher-ups at Borussia Park to realise that he was the man to continue leading them, and the great form saw his eventual promotion to permanent first-team manager.
Gladbach have scored more Bundesliga goals (32) since Andre Schubert took charge than any other club. pic.twitter.com/wdefcIBfER
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) December 22, 2015
It is hard to pick between the two, but Raffael gets it over Lars Stindl at this stage. The veteran Brazilian forward is at the forefront of anything Gladbach do, and his six goals and eight assists in the league have helped this side climb back to the upper echelons. His endeavour is just the same whether the side is winning or losing, his experience helping to usher in new manager Andre Schubert and get the side back to winning ways.
Raffael has missed less than 90 minutes of Gladbach’s league season and his partnership with Stindl has blossomed up front since the two were given freedom by Schubert. The Brazilian presses higher-up the pitch against the defence when not in possession, then with the ball it is Stindl’s job to drop deeper and receive it to allow him to begin creating chances. The two will continue to play a major part in Gladbach’s success, and have made it increasingly hard for new signing Josip Drmic to break into the starting striker slot.
The Foals begin the second-half of the season with a tough, albeit at home, clash against Borussia Dormtund, who took them to pieces in round one. This, however, will be offset over time by a lack of European football, although the positives of that are debatable. Schubert’s side were also eliminated from domestic cup contention by Werder Bremen, meaning their singular focus for the rest of the season is entirely on the league. With fatigue no longer a factor and a kind schedule, Die Folhen have every chance to continue their top four standing, and take another shot at Champions League football next season.
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