Bundesliga

Where Heart Meets Mind: Will Borussia Monchengladbach maintain title challenge?

Borussia Monchengladbach have been one of the surprise packages of the 2019/20 Bundesliga season so far, even finding themselves on top of the table for a number of weeks.

Although a couple of losses have since seen them relinquish the lead to RB Leipzig, they remain firmly in contention at the halfway mark of the campaign just two points off the pace in second place.

It has been 43 years since Gladbach were last champions of Germany and, even in the first few weeks when they found themselves of the summit, the doubters were quick to suggest it was just a passing phase.

Where Heart Meets Mind: Borussia Mönchengladbach

But with 17 games played and the Ruckrunde – as the second half of the campaign is referred to – about to get underway, the fact that they are within touching distance of Leipzig and ahead of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund mean they have to be regarded as genuine contenders.

In his first season at the helm, Marco Rose deserves plenty of credit not just in terms of his side getting the results but also in the attractive manner in which they have been doing so.

Defensively, Die Fohlen have looked stable with a host of seasoned campaigners, they boast a good mix of youth and experience in the engine room, and also have one of the competition’s most-exciting attacks in Marcus Thuram, Alassane Plea and Breel Embolo.

The only real question mark over Gladbach’s credentials is their record against their fellow contenders having lost to both Leipzig and Dortmund, although they passed the test on the third time of asking with an impressive 2-1 win over Bayern in December.

And, while a top-four finish and a place in next season’s UEFA Champions League would still mean an excellent season, this indomitable Gladbach outfit cannot be written off just yet with 17 matches still to play.

THE HEART – PATRICK HERRMANN

One of modern football’s few remaining one-club men, it seems like Patrick Herrmann has been around forever yet he is still only 28 despite being into his 11th season at Borussia Park.

Once a hot prospect who burst onto the scene as part of a exciting double act with current Dortmund captain Marco Reus, injuries have reduced Herrmann’s influence in recent years although he is having somewhat of a renaissance this term.

He still alternates between the starting XI and a reserve role but the winger has made an impact whenever called upon by Rose.

Always giving it 100 per cent with his tireless running and determination to provide the breakthrough for his side, Herrmann’s five league goals this season is already his best return since the 2014/15 season.

THE MIND – YANN SOMMER

The Bundesliga is blessed with some outstanding goalkeepers but, even then, few can match Yann Sommer when it comes to consistency.

Since he first joined Die Fohlen from Basel five and a half years ago, the Switzerland international has been the club’s undisputed No. 1 as is known for his ability to singlehandedly keep opposition attacks at bay.

Given the way modern football evolved, Sommer’s ability with the ball at his feet often sees him join in the play and patiently exchange passes with his centre-backs as Gladbach look to build up from the back.

His mental strength and leadership qualities have also seen him grow in influence with each passing year, and he knows captains his team on a regular basis in the absence of Lars Stindl.

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