Last month Lucien Favre’s side walked out to a packed Borussia-Park ahead of their Champions League Play-off tie against Ukraine giants Dynamo Kiev. However if we look back two seasons it was a different story, the side from the small town of Monchengladbach were in a relegation battle. It wasn’t looking good for the foals as they sat bottom of the Bundesliga when Favre took over in February 2011 to replace Michael Frontzeck. Gladbach gathered some form under Favre as they picked up a vital 20 points from mid February to the end of the season which secured a relegation play-off spot with a total of 36 points, they would have to face Bundesliga 2. side VfL Bochum.
In this relegation play-off Gladbach made home advantage count as they won the first leg 1-0 with an injury time goal from striker De Camargo. The second leg ended in a 1-1 draw after Marco Reus managed to draw Gladbach level to cancel out teammate Nordtviet’s first half own goal. Gladbach won 2-1 on aggregate and lived to fight in the Bundesliga for another season.
The next season the foals found themselves at the opposite end of the table as they spent a lot of the season fighting it out at the top end of the table. Gladbach even found themselves at the top of the table three weeks into the season which was a surprise but it only lasted a week, the lowest place in the table they managed was 7th which is where they started the season and although they did drop to 7th place during the season it only lasted a week. With Marco Reus as the driving force for Gladbach his 18 goals and 8 assists helped the foals manage to secure a 4th place finish. This was an amazing achievement for Favre and his side as it meant they had the chance to play Champions League football this season.
Back to the 21st of August. It was the game the club and it’s fans have been looking forward too all summer and it was also a great chance to prove themselves against some of the best teams Europe has to offer. The game couldn’t have started any better for the German side they came flying out of the blocks and were rewarded after 13 minutes when loanee Alexander Ring controlled a long ball forward from Arango, which he then cut inside and drilled a low shot into the bottom corner. It went downhill from there as the Ukraine side leveled the scoring with a fortunate deflection in the 28th minute from a Taras Milkhalik 30 yard effort sent the ball flying into the back of ter Stegan’s goal. Things got worse as a mix up in the centre of midfield lead to Yarmlenko picking up the ball and cutting inside onto his favored left to drill a shot past ter Stegan to give Kiev the away advantage. Late on in the game things got even worse for Gladbach as their new striker Luuk De Jong was on the end of a Miguel Veloso free kick which resulted in an own goal as he tried clearing the dangerous ball into the box. It wasn’t the result the team or fans wanted and it left Gladbach with it all to do in the away leg if they wished to progress into the Champions League group stage.
The second leg was better from Gladbach as they battled bravely and came close as they were 2-0 up after an own goal from Kiev’s Khacheridi in the 70th minute. 8 minutes later Arango was on the end of an Alexander Ring corner to head Gladbach further into the lead, but two minutes from time the belief from Gladbach was destroyed as Ideye broke through and calmly chipped it over ter Stegan to relax the home fans once more.
So it wasn’t to be for Monchengladbach and the team was disappointed to fall at the final qualifying hurdle, however although they didn’t reach the Champions League group stages their fans and the players can be happy with the effort put in. Gladbach had the quality to progress and they showed that in the second leg but the first leg let them down and they have fallen short and were beaten by a more experianced side in this competition. It’s not all doom and gloom as for Gladbach as their fans can still enjoy some fantastic European nights this season as they qualify for the group stages of the Europa League. Monchengladbach have been drawn in Group C with some tough opponents as they will face up against Marseille, Fenerbache and AEL Limassol, it will be a ticky test for the foals but they have the quality to get through the group and progress to the knockout stages. It’s exciting times at Gladbach as they will be looking to have a good European advantage while also continuing their good progress in the domestic competitions.
Article for footyscene.