After disappointing results in two consecutive games, Borussia Monchengladbach look to turn fate around when they host 1. FC Union Berlin at Borussia Park.
Table-toppers at a point, Borussia Monchengladbach have had a bad twist of fate since defeating Bayern Munich in early December. Till that point, they had failed to win just three of their games. That number, though, has increased four-fold since, in exactly as many rounds of fixtures.
Gladbach returned to the Bundesliga in spectacular fashion, as they put three goals past Eintracht Frankfurt away from home. However, they were unable to maintain that form and have failed to win their last two games. This run includes a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen and a goalless draw in the midweek at Werder Bremen.
Currently, Marco Rose’s men sit fifth on the table, two points off RB Leipzig and will hope 1. FC Koln take some points off Julian Naggeslmann and co. while they desperately attempt to return to winning ways. That said, a victory by any margin will mean they go back above Leverkusen.
Their opponents, 1. FC Union Berlin were promoted to the top flight of German football for the first time in their history prior to the 2019-20 season, and have shown that they are capable of competing at the highest level. Their victory in the reverse fixture against Gladbach is testament to the same.
However, Union Berlin have struggled immensely away from home this season, registering a mere three wins. Only Frankfurt sit below them on the ‘away’ table. To make things worse, they face off against the team that have the third-best home record in the league.
Urs Fischer and co. have failed to win any of their last six games in all competitions and will be desperate to get back to winning ways as they take on Borussia Monchengladbach. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture.
Team News & Tactics
Borussia Monchengladbach were already without the services of arguably the best midfielder in the league this season, Denis Zakaria, who is unlikely to return this season. To make things worse, Breel Embolo picked up a calf injury when they hosted Leverkusen and could be out for another week.
Tony Jantschke (suspended), Fabian Johnson (muscular) and, Tobias Strobl (hamstring) will also have to watch from the sidelines.
Marco Rose would be despairingly hoping for a win in this game and could be forced to go with an even more attacking formation, like a 3-4-1-2 he has so often used this season. However, it failed in the previous game, and it seems unlikely he’ll go for it again immediately.
We are expecting club captain Lars Stindl to continue in place of Embolo, albeit in a slightly different position. The German will be playing as a no. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 off of Alassane Plea. Jonas Hofmann is expected to retain his position on the right wing after being left out against Bremen, completing the front four.
Christoph Kramer and Florian Neuhaus will assume responsibility as the double pivot in the absence of Zakaria. The midfield has, however, not fared quite as well since Zakaria picked up his injury. Rose also has Laszlo Benes at his disposal. The Slovak is in contention to start, and could partner Neuhaus, who would get more license to roam upfront.
This double pivot will be screening the back four of Stefan Lainer, Ramy Bensebaini, Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi. Lainer and Bensebaini will be adding width from the back through the right and left wings, respectively. The Algerian has had a rather exciting season so far with five goals and an assist to his name and will be wreaking havoc on the wing against Berlin as well.
The brilliant Yann Sommer will be holding the fort for Gladbach, looking to improve on his incredible season. The Swiss international has six clean sheets this term, but has conceded the third-fewest number of goals.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Sommer; Lainer, Ginter, Elvedi, Bensebaini; Neuhaus, Kramer; Hofmann, Stindl, Thuram; Plea
1. FC Union Berlin
Compared to Borussia Monchengladbach, Union Berlin will come into this fixture with a lot less to worry about on the injury front. Sheraldo Becker and Akaki Gogia will not be travelling with the squad as they remain sidelined with injuries. However, the big blow for the capital-side will be the absence of Robert Andrich, who picked up a red card against 1. FSV Mainz 05.
The midfielder has been inarguably the best player for Fischer, playing in the centre of the park and helping with the transition from defence from attack. Grischa Promel and Felix Kroos are both in contention to take up that spot in midfield, but Kroos could be given the nod
Kroos will be complemented by Christian Genter in the four-man midfield, and the width will be provided by captain Christopher Trimmel and his namesake Christopher Lenz. The duo have a combined total of 10 assists and are the highest providers in the team.
The three-man backline would consist of Bundesliga legend Nevan Subotic on the left, Marvin Friedrich on the right, with Keven Schlotterbeck playing the role of the sweeper. The German has a clearance rate of 4.8 times per game, which is the 4th highest in the league. The back three will be guarding Rafal Gikiewicz, who will be playing between the posts.
Union Berlin will start the game with an unchanged front three of Marcus Ingvartsen, Marius Butler and Sebastian Andersson, with Andersson heading the attack. He is responsible for a third of their total goals in the league with 11, and is the one the Gladbach defence should watch out for.
Probable Lineup (3-4-3): Gikiewicz; Subotic, Schlotterbeck, Friedrich; Trimmel, Gentner, Kroos, Lenz; Ingvartsen, Andersson, Bulter
- Of the 52 teams Borussia Monchengladbach have faced in the Bundesliga, Union Berlin are the only side they are yet to beat.
- The Foals were top of the table when they met Union on Matchday 12, one point clear of Bayern Munich. They now trail the league leaders by nine points.
- Alassane Plea and Marcus Thuram have nine and eight Bundesliga goals, respectively, so far this season. Both have weighed in with eight assists.
- Union have come out on top in each of their two previous meetings with Gladbach, winning the reverse fixture and triumphing on penalties in the 2000-01 DFB Cup semi-finals.
- Union’s leading marksman Sebastian Andersson scored 12 times across each of his previous two full Bundesliga 2 campaigns. He is already on 11 after 28 matchdays this season.
Player to Watch
Both teams in question here boast of extremely talented attacking units. The likes of Sebastian Andersson and Marius Butler will go head-to-head with Alessane Plea and Marcus Thuram, with both duos in fine form. However, Thuram stands out for this fixture.
Stading at 6ft. 3 inches, the Frenchman is an absolute unit of a footballer and will be extremely useful for Borussia Monchengladbach against Union Berlin, who like to talk and walk a tough game. He is also incredibly quick, clocking in at 35.6 km/h this season – a club-high and fifth highest in the league.
Thuram has scored twice in three games since the resumption of Bundesliga, which has taken his tally to eight goals. On top of that, he also has eight assists, making him an extremely productive forward. His telepathic connection with compatriot Plea will be on show again this Sunday and Berlin should beware.
Borussia Monchengladbach 4-1 1. FC Union Berlin
Borussia Monchengladbach will be motivated to go all out in this game for a couple of reasons. The first one being that they have failed to register a win in their last two games and manager Marco Rose will want to march his troops to victory against Berlin. Moreover, Alassane Plea has scored only one goal in his last seven games and will want to improve his goals to game ratio.
That said, it is unlikely that Die Folen keep a clean sheet against Berlin, who also have exhilarating offensive players, and hence we predict Gladbach to register a 4-1 win in front of cardboard cutouts.