Solid is a good way to describe last season for Borussia Mönchengladbach in hindsight. In reality there was some flip flopping and a tough stretch that almost cost The Foals a spot in European play. It was not long ago that Gladbach flirted with relegation, but their smart team building and steady play have moved them to a top-half-of-the-table team. They hope to take one more step forward in the Bundesliga and DFB Pokal while impressing in the Europa League.
The Foals found themselves in the top three after the first half of the season thanks to making Borussia Park a fortress. They were unbeaten at home until January 24. They had an eight-game unbeaten streak from October to December. Inconsistent road play and declining performance in the second half dropped Mönchengladbach out of the top four.
Lucien Favre has had since February 2011 to move Gladbach out of the basement and last year was another step in the right direction. He was rewarded with an extension through the 2016-17 season. He will have his club from last year mostly intact. Marc-André ter Stegen moved onto Barcelona and fan-favorite Juan Arango joined Club Tijuana.
Yann Sommer was the big money transfer as a direct replacement for ter Stegen. He comes in from Basel where he had 65 clean sheets in 169 appearances. Sommer won the Swiss Super League title four times while between the pipes for Basel.
Fabian Johnson was targeted early by Favre. Mönchengladbach has been unsettled at right back and now the USMNT defender will slot right in. Johnson fits right into the high-pressure, possession game that Mönchengladbach favor. He can also add a goal from the back line from time to time.
Captain Filip Daems is set for a potential bench role behind Oscar Wendt or Álvaro Domínguez. Daems’ leadership couples well with the example set by veteran center back Martin Stranzl even if he is relegated to the bench. Stranzl will wear the captain’s armband if this is the case. Tony Jantschke was Stranzl’s partner in the Thursday’s Europa League match.
Although Favre usually likes to stick to his guns and go with what is familiar, Gladbach made smart additions in the midfield. Ibrahima Traoré adds depth to a team that was lacking in that department last year. André Hahn is a smart wing player that knows the ins and outs of the Bundesliga. Both of these additions add speed and attacking ability. Patrick Herrmann remains with the team after starting every match last year.
World Cup winner Christoph Kramer and young central midfielder Granit Xhaka are still involved in transfer rumors. If they stay on the team, these players will have vital roles. Havard Nordtveit provides depth in the defensive midfield.
Aside from Sommer, the biggest addition may be Thorgan Hazard. He is on loan from Chelsea after scoring 18 goals for Zulte over the last two years. He could team with Raffael as dangerous two-man front line. Center forward Max Kruse is expected to return from injury next week to add to a good attacking team. Branimir Hrgota added two goals in the Europa League match in place of Kruse.
Gladbach wants to do well in the Bundesliga while showing they deserve to be in European competition. They will use their possession-style football to move forward and rely on a good set of attacking players to capitalize once they are in the final third. They have made smart additions and added some depth, which is needed with the extra games they will play this year. The schedule will be tough, but they should have a similar record to 2013-14.
2014-15 Record: 18-7-9, 61 Points, Fifth Place