Despite all but failing to qualify from their Champions league group, the buzz team in Germany right now may still be Borussia Dortmund. Klopp’s collection of young stars, none brighter than Mario Gotze, still look perfectly capable of winning the Bundesliga again – demonstrating this in the best way possible, by beating Bayern in their own back yard and reminding everyone just why they were crowned champions in such rip-roaring style last season.
But enough about the yellow and blacks, this season a different Borussia are surprising and delighting German fans in equal measure. Borussia c aren’t quite presiding over top spot but amazingly are equal on points at the summit with champions Dortmund and one point better off than perennial powerhouse Bayern Munich and it’s nearly Christmas! With only three more games to play before the Winter break, including an acid test against Dortmund, The Foals could unbelievably find themselves crowned Herbstmeister (autumn champions).
Monchengladbach have long been starved of success with reminders a plenty of the good times they enjoyed in the 70’s, but nothing suggesting a similar purple patch could happen again. Sharing title winning duties with Bayern Munich in a decade which saw them win German football’s top prize 5 times they have been conspicuous by their absence since 1977. Not to say this current well-drilled Borussia team will march to multiple league victories but such a change in their recent fortune has come as a surprise to everyone, avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth just last season.
A change in their recent fortune has come as a surprise to everyone, avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth just last season.
The feel good factor which currently envelopes the Borussia-Park is largely down to Lucien Favre. The Swiss manager only took over in February but has managed to turn an average looking team who were prone to lapses in defensive concentration into an organised unit who know which roles they are meant to be undertaking and press with the sort of urgency which may have seen them avoid the near escapes of recent seasons.
The rest has been down to the mercurial talent of Marco Reus who has been the undoubted star of the Bundesliga campaign so far. After acting as understudy and also lookalike for Monchengladbach’s last jinking talisman Marko Marin, Reus took up the position of star man seamlessly after Marin’s sale and Borussia know that keeping Reus on the back of such mesmerising displays is a near impossibility. Arsenal, Bayern and Manchester United are known interested parties with Favre even admitting that he had spoken to the Arsenal manager about the player. “I know Arsène very well and I just told him the truth: that Marco is a very, very interesting player. But I am coach of Monchengladbach and I would like to keep hold of him.”
‘Rolls Reus’ in the final third is as good as anyone in the Bundesliga currently – yes, even Mario Gotze. Undoubtedly the two most exciting attacking prospects in Germany may go head to head this Saturday so long as Reus manages to play through the pain of a broken toe. With the winter break looming and this undoubtedly their biggest test of the season, taking a gamble on the fitness of Reus may be unavoidable for Favre. Despite not boasting the same creative instincts as Gotze who has racked up five assists already this season, Reus has scored 5 more goals – defenders can’t get near him and the majority of the ten he’s scored have been absolute show-stoppers. Comparisons with Arjen Robben don’t look too wide of the mark either, although unfortunately the Dutchman’s fragility could also be a point of comparison with Reus missing chances to represent the senior German side due to injury on more than one occasion.
To sustain their current form, Reus’ brilliance will need to be supplemented by some goal scoring forwards to help lessen the load. Despite former German international striker Mike Hanke scoring a brace against Koln at the weekend – his first goals of the season – he’s struggled to find the net, but has escaped any criticism due to his work rate upfront. Venezuela captain Juan Arango has scored three and assisted seven – no other player has scored more than three goals apart from Reus who is already in double figures. It has been suggested the surprise package of the season are an injury away from tumbling out of their new lofty surroundings. A good plan for the winter break would be to scour the market for a new striker and maybe freeze Marco Reus until the end of January.
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