After five defeats at the beginning of the 2015/16 Bundesliga season, head-coach Lucien Favre voluntarily stepped down and was replaced by André Schubert. At the time it was a shock move, since Favre’s leadership of five years had seen the team go from a mid-table club at best to a consistent contender in the upper echelons of the league. However, Schubert – and his iconic, almost neon-green Gladbach hoodie – eased whatever doubts were had by leading the team to seven wins and two draws in the next nine matches.
At the beginning of December, Mönchengladbach notably faced off against Bayern Munich, who up until that point had not lost a single game. In front of 54,000 faithful fans, goals by Fabian Johnson, Oscar Wendt, and Lars Stindl, as well literally heroic goalkeeping by Yann Sommer saw Gladbach beat the Bavarians 3 – 1.
Just to reiterate how much Gladbach dominated this match, here’s a clip of Johnson’s goal:
Unfortunately, Gladbach would go on to lose the following game against Bayer 04 Leverkusen 5 – 0, and the rest of their season was a bit more tumultuous. (To be fair, towards the end there, a few teams in the top half of the Bundesliga were inconsistent.)
In the upcoming season, expectations of a top four finish are once again on Schubert’s neon-green shoulders, but a few key transfers away from the club this summer could derail those plans.
Transfers out: (fees per transfermarkt)
Granit Xhaka – Arsenal (€45 Million)
Havard Nordtveit – West Ham United (on a free)
Branimir Hrgota – Eintracht Frankfurt (on a free)
Roel Brouwers – Roda Kerkrade (on a free)
Martin Hinteregger – RB Leipzig (end of loan)
Martin Stranzl – retired
My thoughts: Well, the last time Gladbach lost an incredibly influential player (Marco Reus at the end of the 2012 season) they went from 4th place to 8th. This summer they’ve lost not just one, but two. With Xhaka going to Arsenal and Nordtveit off to West Ham, there will be a lot more questions asked about Gladbach’s defense. And apart from being the solid defensive rock in midfield, Xhaka’s leadership as captain will also be especially missed. Appropriate replacements are an absolute must.
Luckily, the management team at Gladbach have been busy this summer, scooping up players left and right.
Christoph Kramer - Bayer 04 Leverkusen (€15 Million)
Jannik Vestergaard – Werder Bremen (€12.5 Million)
Laszlo Benes – MSK Zilina (€2 Million)
Tobias Strobl – TSG Hoffenheim (on a free)
Mamadou Doucoure – PSG (on a free)
Nico Brandenburger – FC Luzern (end of loan)
Josip Drmic – Hamburger SV (end of loan)
Janis Blaswich – Dynamo Dresden (end of loan)
My thoughts: Widely touted as one of the most talented Danish center-backs of his generation, Vestergaard comes in as the obvious replacement for Nordtveit. Bremen weren’t too keen on letting him go, much less so to another Bundesliga club, but oh well. He might face some minor competition from Nico Elvedi (only 19 years old and not yet fully proven), Alvaro Dominguez (older, experienced defender who’s been at the club for quite some time, but can also play left-back), and Andreas Christensen (fellow Dane on loan from Chelsea who, at only 20 years old, was voted Mönchengladbach’s Player of the Year, ahead of Granit Xhaka).
Christoph Kramer makes a return to Mönchengladbach, although this time on a permanent deal, rather than a loan. Tall, strong, and not too shabby hold the ball, he’s possibly the best replacement for Xhaka that Gladbach could get, especially for a low fee of 15 Million. His single season with Leverkusen was a bit of a disappointment because he didn’t quite fit in the coach’s system. But if he can regain the form he had when he first played for Gladbach, then the absence of Xhaka will hardly be missed.
Although Gladbach lost two of their most important players this summer, they’ve done all they can to replace them with proven, 1st team talents. Additionally, the team didn’t lose any of its major attacking options, with Thorgan Hazard and Raffael still there. If Schubert can nail down his tactics and keep players healthy, then Gladbach will once again be a threat to any side in the league. But, that’s a big if. Any slip-ups could see them fall a few rungs, with Schalke and Hamburger SV also eying a Champions League position. Although they may share the name ‘Borussia’, I don’t think Gladbach will be a serious threat to Dortmund. But then again, that’s what Bayern thought on that cold December day...
Prediction: 4th place.
Correction: An earlier version of this article said that Favre was fired, rather than voluntarily resigning. Shoutout to BVB_Hawk for catching my mistake!