Gladbach’s defeat against Dortmund- On the threshold of the top team


For the third time this season, Gladbach has failed the BVB – despite another good performance. With coach Marco Rose, Borussia could develop into a top team. But to do so, it must reach the Champions League.

Marcus Thuram, Breel Embolo, half of the Gladbacher Bank, they all grabbed each other on the head with both hands in the 80th minute, could not believe it. After a flat pass from Thuram, Embolo passed the ball from close range. It would have been a 2-2 win in the top match against Borussia Dortmund, probably a point win after all – and a well-deserved one at that. They were close again, but again it was not enough.

Gladbach’s coach Marco Rose congratulated his BVB colleague Lucien Favre once again after this 1:2 defeat. “I’m glad that Dortmund won’t be coming back. Three times is enough. Three times close. With good performances, without results,” he summed up this year’s duels in league and cup.

His team is playing a very good season, and in the first half of the season, they were top of the league for weeks. Now they are fifth, and can jump back to fourth place in Wednesday’s catch-up game against Cologne. But after six compulsory matches against the top trio Bayern, Dortmund and Leipzig, the balance is: one win, one draw, four defeats. Borussia Mönchengladbach is not (yet) a real top team, but is on the threshold of becoming a top team. The potential is there to make Dortmund, Bayern and Leipzig dangerous. But a lot of things have to go right now.

“What is still missing in some cases is the ability to score in matches like today,” said Jonas Hofmann. His team already lost against Leipzig after an outstanding first half. For a long time, Gladbach hardly allowed anything against the strong BVB offensive, was dangerous himself, but then made two goals possible through carelessness. Before the 0:1 Lars Stindl played a missed pass. Erling Haaland was on the ground before the 1:2, the Gladbachers thought Dortmund would pass the ball out, were inattentive and suddenly Achraf Hakimi was free. “To become a real top team,” said Rose, “you have to put a percentage on it.

How sustainable is Gladbach’s success?

The coach is one of the reasons why Gladbach is confident he can take this next step. With the 43-year-old, sports director Max Eberl has secured an excellent coach for the club, who has already achieved success with inspiring football in his inaugural season. And Eberl has also made many right decisions with regard to the squad. The sports director has reinvested high transfer income from the departure of Granit Xhaka, Jannik Vestergaard and Thorgan Hazard. Matthias Ginter, Alassane Pléa, Thuram – they all worked very quickly and made the team better.

A third merit of Eberl: Almost all important players have long-term contracts. Only at the end of the year did Yann Sommer, Christoph Kramer, Florian Neuhaus and Laszlo Benes extend their contracts within a very short time. Matthias Ginter and captain Lars Stindl (contracts until 2021), who is just blossoming again after a long injury and scored his fifth goal in the past four games against Dortmund, should also see their future in Gladbach.

What remains is the financial gap between Gladbach and the top teams. “Bavaria, Leipzig, Dortmund, Leverkusen – these are of course four clubs that also have a lot of financial possibilities that we just don’t have in moderation,” said Jonas Hofmann after the defeat against BVB. “In the long run you can see the difference.” Max Eberl spoke during the week of a backlog that cannot be made up.

In fact, the differences are great. Gladbach achieved a turnover of about 173 million euros in the 2018 business year. Bavaria’s turnover in the 2018/2019 season was a good 750 million, BVB’s almost 490 million. RB Leipzig was already earning a total of almost 220 million euros in 2017. The subsequent figures have not yet been published, but Leipzig is likely to move further away from Gladbach quickly.

Financial losses due to sporting setbacks

Borussia does not have a financial backer like Red Bull and does not come close to Dortmund dimensions in terms of transfer income. The club is not a global brand like FC Bayern. What’s more, important income from sporting successes is missing.

In the previous season, the team missed its entry into the Champions League by losing to BVB on the last matchday. Instead, Leverkusen took in just under 40 million euros, despite having made it through the preliminary rounds. In the Europa League there is much less money. And there Gladbach gambled away further income by going out at the last minute in the preliminary round.

These are losses that Gladbach cannot afford. If the club really wants to play at the top of the Bundesliga in the long term, it must make it into the Champions League this year. It would be important for Denis Zakaria not to have suffered a serious injury. After a clash with goalkeeper Sommer, he had to be replaced early on against BVB.

Zakaria is extremely important for his team, whether in defensive midfield or, as against BVB, in the centre of a triple chain. Many top clubs are courting the Swiss. In Gladbach, he still has a contract until 2022, but Eberl himself says his entry into the Champions League would make it much easier to keep Zakaria. That only makes it even more important for Gladbach to actually finish at least fourth this year.


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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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