Borussia Monchengladbach will be looking for an upturn of fortune as they host AS Roma in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday.
It has been a bright start to the season for Borussia Monchengladbach. The Bundesliga giants are currently leading the league table, with a three-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund. But, luck hasn’t favoured them in Europe this season, as it seems, with the Foals still winless in the Europa League after three games.
That means a defeat to Roma on Thursday could virtually seal their fate in this edition of the Europa League, though their chances would still remain minimum even if they manage to secure all three points. They are, however, coming on the back of a hard-fought win over Bayer Leverkusen in the Rhineland derby and Marco Rose will be hoping that his team can continue their winning momentum.
As for Roma, they are sitting at the top of Group J table but not convincingly. They have five points, leading Wolfsberger AC and Istanbul Basaksehir by just one point. Not to mention, they failed to win against Gladbach in the reverse fixture, drawing 1-1.
At the same time, the Giallorossi have been in good form in Serie A, winning all three of their previous matches. Their most recent victory arrived against Napoli on the weekend. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this tightly contested match-up at the Borussia Park this midweek.
Tactics & Team News
Rose is without the services of key forward Alassane Plea. But fortunately, he has the option to deploy both Marcus Thuram and captain Lars Stindl in attack. Stindl hasn’t played a crucial role since returning from injury, but this could be an excellent opportunity for him to prove himself.
Elsewhere, Rose could stick to a three-man backline, meaning Tony Jantschke will retain his place on the starting lineup. He will form the central defensive partnership alongside Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi. Stefan Lainer is a guaranteed starter at right wing-back while veteran Oscar Wendt will likely be rested.
Denis Zakaria will return in midfield, at the expense of Jonas Hofmann. The Swiss will be partnered by Christoph Kramer, while Florian Neuhaus will operate as the number ten, ahead of Breel Embolo and Laszlo Benes.
Gladbach will look to wear Roma out by remaining solid at the back. They have significant pace on the break with Thuram leading the attack while Patrick Herrmann is also an option. In midfield, Zakaria’s dynamism will be key against a strong Roma side.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Sommer; Jantschke, Ginter, Elvedi; Lainer, Kramer, Zakaria, Poulsen; Neuhaus; Stindl, Thuram.
Paulo Fonseca is facing an injury crisis, with a host of key players ruled out, including star midfielder Bryan Cristante. The ex-Atalanta star will once again be deputised by Javier Pastore, who will feature alongside Nicolo Zaniolo and Gianluca Mancini in midfield.
Mancini, however, will operate in a holding midfield role, providing security to the backline consisting of Federico Fazio and Chris Smalling while Alessandro Florenzi and Leonardo Spinazzola will appear as fullbacks. It is fair to mention that Davide Zappacosta and Amadou Diawara have been ruled out due to injuries.
Speaking of injuries, Nikola Kalinic’s absence will once again be a huge blow for Roma. They do have a replacement in Edin Dzeko, but it remains to be seen whether the veteran forward manages to perform against Gladbach this week.
With Fonseca a huge fan of squad rotations, one would expect Antonio Mirante to start over Pau Lopez in goal. Cengiz Under, meanwhile, is tipped to return from injury and receive a starting berth. The Turk will operate on the right flank, with Justin Kluivert featuring on the opposite end.
Probable Lineup (4-1-4-1): Mirante; Florenzi, Fazio, Smalling, Spinazzola; Mancini; Under, Zaniolo, Pastore, Kluivert; Dzeko.
- Gladbach have lost only one of their eight home meetings with Italian sides, though it was in their last such game (0-1 v Fiorentina in February 2017).
- After winning their first three away games against German sides in all European competitions, Roma have won just two f their last 11 such matches.
- Gladbach have won just one of their last nine Europa League matches and are winless in their three games in the competition so far this season.
- After losing their first such game in September 2009, Roma are unbeaten in their 14 Europa League group stage games, winning eight and drawing six.
- Nicolo Zaniolo has been involved in 67% of Roma’s six Europa League goals this season. Only Andraz Sporar (5) of Slovan Bratislava has registered more goal involvements in the competition so far.
Player to Watch
Thuram is one of the most in-form players in the Bundesliga right now, having already netted five goals in ten league matches this season. He has been involved in as many as eight goals in the last six matches. But, the Frenchman hasn’t quite been able to shine in the Europa League thus far.
Hence, this could be an excellent opportunity for the centre forward to outshine the likes of Stindl, Herrmann and Plea and become Gladbach’s weapon-in-chief. His pace on the break could cause real problems for the relatively slow defensive duo of Fazio and Smalling. Therefore, Roma must keep an eye out for this individual.
Borussia Monchengladbach 1-0 AS Roma
We expect this to be a low scoring game with Gladbach ultimately emerging as the victors due to their home advantage. Besides, they have appeared quite lethal on the counter and are likely to dominate a decimated Roma side, who are missing both Kalinic and Cristante.