Juventus
    Juventus
      02.11.2015 12:23 - in: Champions League S

      Borussia-Park battles

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      As the Bianconeri get ready for a trip to Germany and a fourth Group D match in this year’s Champions League, Juventus.com focuses on the Foals’ recent record at Borussia-Park

      Borussia Monchengladbach’s home record in all competitions this season reads three wins and as many defeats.

      This statistic, however, tells only half the story, since their two home reverses in the Bundesliga to Mainz and Hamburg fell within their six-match losing streak at the beginning of the campaign.

      Coached then by Lucien Favre, the man who had overseen the club’s rise from relegation danger to Champions League qualification during his four years at the helm, Borussia’s poor start to 2015/16 appeared a mystery to most people who had grown used to seeing them competing in the upper echelons of the table.

      A common trend in their opening league losses was the inability to optimise their high possession counts with much of an end product in front of goal, as they severely lacked a cutting edge in the final third.

      Against Mainz they enjoyed as much as 69 per cent of the ball but managed only two more shots on target than their opponents (6 to 4), who would ultimately snatch a 2-1 win after Patrick Herrmann had equalised for the hosts.

      And it would be a similar story in the 3-0 defeat to Hamburg, when the Foals only tested Tobias Sippel twice in the away goal, despite having 13 shots in total and 56 per cent possession. On the contrary, their visitors were far more clinical, converting three of their four efforts on target, which featured a brace by Pierre-Michel Lasogga.

      The final straw for Favre came after a 1-0 reverse to Cologne on Saturday 19 September, which saw the Swiss manager replaced on an interim basis by Andre Schubert just in time for their midweek clash at home to Augsburg four days later.

      Gladbach have seen a miraculous reversal of fortunes since Andre Schubert's appointment as head coach

      The match could not have got off to a better start as Borussia flew out of the traps to go four goals to the good after only 21 minutes, Fabian Johnson, Granit Xhaka, Lars Stindl and Mahmoud Dahoud all getting on the scoresheet, before the visitors ended up halving the deficit courtesy of two spot-kicks by Paul Verhaegh.

      This was undoubtedly a turning point in the Foals’ season, not only in terms of results but also style of play. Against Augsburg, they had only 49 per cent of the possession, yet took 21 shots, of which 12 were on target.

      Having less of the ball, defending narrow and launching quickfire counter-attacks paved the way for subsequent successes in the league, including convincing wins on the road against Stuttgart (3-1) and Frankfurt (5-1).

      The visit of last year’s runners-up Wolfsburg made for an extremely tight encounter, with both sides testing the respective goalkeepers on three occasions apiece, and it would take the hosts until the 75th minute to break the deadlock through Norwegian defender Havard Nordtveit. Ibrahima Traore then made sure of the points with a goal only four minutes later.

      Since thrashing Frankfurt away in mid-October, Schubert’s men have adopted a more adventurous approach to Bundesliga matches, characterised by their high-pressing game that has seen them dominate possession as under Favre, while continuing to fashion and convert more opportunities than their opponents.

      In the last home fixture against Schalke, for example, Gladbach saw 60 per cent of the ball and forced away keeper Christofer Heimeroth into making seven saves, but he was unable to keep out the other three strikes coming his way, as goals by Julian Korb, in-form Brazilian striker Raffael and Stindl sealed the points.

      The Foals have only played once at home so far on their debut Champions League campaign and, although they lost 2-1 to Manchester City on the evening, they made life difficult for Manuel Pellegrini’s men, who needed a 90th minute penalty from Sergio Aguero in order to get their first points on the board in this year’s competition.

      Gladbach were happy to have far less possession than City (35 to 65 per cent), but Joe Hart ended up the busier goalkeeper, making five stops to Yann Sommer’s four. The Englishman excelled himself in keeping out Raffael’s 20th minute penalty but could not stop Stindl from giving the Germans the lead nine minutes after the restart.

      The Premier League leaders would ultimately make their pressure count as goals from Argentine duo Nicolas Otamendi and Aguero sealed their maiden victory in this year’s Champions League.

      On Tuesday, the Bianconeri can expect to face a different Borussia to the more cautious, counter-attacking outfit that successfully stifled Massimiliano Allegri’s charges two weeks ago in a goalless stalemate at Juventus Stadium.

      It goes without saying that the Bianconeri will need to be at their best to beat the side, whose 4-1 weekend win over Hertha Berlin – their sixth successive league success – lifted them up to fifth place in the Bundesliga.

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