Archive for the ‘Mönchengladbach’ Category

Player of the Season

Robert Lewandowski: Only Mario Gomez and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar bettered the Pole’s return of 22 Bundesliga goals this term, not bad for a man who started the season as second-choice striker for Borussia Dortmund. His goals, assists and link-up play as the lone striker have been an integral part of The Borussians title success. So much so, in fact, that Lucas Barrios, the man whose injury gave Lewandowski his chance, has been sold to Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Evergrande.

Eurosport’s Ian Holyman said: “22 goals is a great return for a man who started the season as second-choice to Lucas Barrios. The Pole seized his opportunity wonderfully when Barrios returned injured from the Copa America, and I think gave Dortmund more as their lone striker than the Paraguayan did in 2010-11.”

Young Player of the Season

Marco Reus: He’ll be a teammate of Lewandowski next season, having agreed back in January to play in the black and yellow of Dortmund from next season, with a fee of around £17.5m reported to have been paid for his services. If he carries on from this season, that will be an absolute bargain. Only Gomez, Huntelaar and Lewandowski have more ‘points’ in terms of goals and assists combined, with Reus delivering 18 goals and 9 assists for Monchengladbach – a remarkable return for a 22-year-old, and one that played a huge part in The Foals securing a Champions League spot.

Ian Holyman said: “Sensational for Mönchengladbach…He’s a player who I think will receive wider acclaim at EURO 2012, where he isn’t likely to start, but will be explosive when he comes off the bench.”

Manager of the Season

Jurgen Klopp: While honourable mentions must go to Lucien Favre (‘Gladbach) and Christian Streich (Freiburg) et al, Klopp deserves this for leading Dortmund to back-to-back league titles for the first time since the mid-90s. His role in the success of the side, and the development of youngsters like Mario Gotze, cannot be underestimated, and his reputation is now such that his name is linked with almost every top managerial vacancy. However, you’d imagine he’ll be at Dortmund for the forseeable (and very bright) future.

“Managed to find the rights words to inspire his team to hold off Bayern, who invested heavily last summer, once again.” – Ian Holyman.

Team of the Season (4-2-3-1)

Ter-Stegen; Piszczek, Hummels, Dante, Lahm; Bargfrede, Kroos; Harnik, Kagawa, Reus; Lewandowski.

Do you agree? Should someone else have won? Shocked Huntelaar was left out of the team of the season? Leave a comment and let us know…

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Neuer: Two challengers for his jersey

Manuel Neuer is currently in possession of the Germany number 1 jersey, and is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers not just in Germany, but the world.

That being said, however, he may well face some competition soon in the form of two 19-year-olds by the names of Bernd Leno and Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The two goalkeepers have seen their stock rise remarkably this season, and are firmly established as first choice goalkeepers for their respective sides, Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Leno came through the ranks at Stuttgart, for whose reserve side he made over 50 appearances.

Ter Stegen, meanwhile, was rather remarkably signed by Die Fohlen at the tender age of four. Since then, he rose steadily through the ranks and established himself in the reserves and often back-up to first choice ‘keeper, Logan Bailly.

Leno found himself unable to break into the Stuttgart first team, but did sign a contract extension in May, which was to keep him at the club until 2014, perhaps a sign of how highly he was rated.

Similarly, ter Stegen found his path to the first team blocked, even when many fans believed he should have been the man between the posts, as opposed to Bailly. His fortunes, much like the club’s, would turn around with the appointment of Lucien Favre.

Leno, not long after signing the aforementioned extension, joined Leverkusen on loan as a replacement for the injured Rene Adler. Since then, he has become the youngest German goalkeeper to appear in the Champions League; and his short-term loan deal has been turned into a permanent one that runs until 2017. Such is his rival’s form, Adler has announced he is to leave Leverkusen when his contract expires.

Ter Stegen finally got his chance towards the end of the 2010/11 season, and ended up playing a part in their avoiding relegation. Since then, he’s been handed the number one jersey (literally and figuratively), while Bailly has been sent out on loan. Mönchengladbach boast the second best defence in the league, and that is in no small part down to ter Stegen.

If it weren’t for Neuer, at least one of them would probably have German caps to their name by now. As it stands, it surely won’t be long before they both do. They may have to wait a while for a chance, Neuer himself is only 25, but it’s a chance that will undoubtedly come. And it’ll be interesting to see which one of them takes it.

“Apart from Gotze, [the most exciting youngster in Germany] is probably Bernd Leno.” – Raphael Honigstein, German football correspondent for The Guardian. @Honigstein.

“Among the many young goalkeepers in Germany, for me, Marc-Andre ter Stegen is the most exciting. He’s incredibly mature for his years.” – Clark Whitney, goal.com German editor. @Mr_Bundesliga.

Who is the better of the two is difficult to say, but you can have your say in the poll below.

An earlier piece discussed the turnaround in fortunes of Borussia Mönchengladbach, and one of the biggest reasons behind said turnaround is a 22-year-old by the name of Marco Reus.

Marco Reus: better than Gotze?

‘Rolls’ Reus, as he has been dubbed by the German media, is one of the biggest and brightest prospects in Germany. In fact, some may whisper, just whisper, that Reus is a better talent than Mario Gotze.

Yet his rise to stardom was far from straightforward. Born in Dortmund, it was no surprise when, around the age of 14, he was snapped up by Borussia Dortmund. However, via a rare misjudgment on the part of Die Borussen, he was allowed to leave as a 17-year-old.

Reus took it all in his stride, and moved down the leagues in order to gain regular football. He joined third division club Rot Weiss Ahlen, and even there he only started in the second team.

However, it wasn’t long before he was forcing his way into the first team, and in the 2007/8 season he helped the side win the league and gain promotion to 2.Bundesliga, and then played a bigger role as they finished 10th the following season.

His form hadn’t gone unnoticed, and soon he was back in the Bundesliga with another Borussia, this time Mönchengladbach. Perhaps a sign of how highly Reus was rated was the fact they allowed Marko Marin to leave that same summer.

He has gone from strength to strength at Mönchengladbach. Having quickly established himself as a first team regular; he’s now their most important player. Last season he scored 11 league goals in 34 games; a blistering start to this season means he’s already scored 10 in just 14.

He has an interesting release clause in his contract: it will stand at €18m next summer; one year later that becomes €15m and then €12m a year after that. It means Mönchengladbach could hang on to him until 2014, but even €18m could represent a bargain.

Quick, good with both feet, hard working, skillful and like the archetypal modern attacking midfielder, capable of playing anywhere across the midfield/attack. Germany and Reus both have extremely bright futures, and it’s looking increasingly likely they will be intertwined.

“At 22, he is finally realising his potential. He’s made tremendous strides this season, and is an absolute nightmare to defend against.” – Clark Whitney, German football editor for goal.com. Twitter: @Mr_Bundesliga

Marco Reus is an exceptional talent. I actually rate Reus higher than Gotze.” – Ross Dunbar, Bundesliga blogger for Mirror Football and SB Nation. Twitter: @rossdunbar93

Borussia Park: finally seeing football worthy of the stadium

This season, Borussia Mönchengladbach has finally woken up.

To say they had been a sleeping giant would be an understatement; it would be fairer to say they had been in a coma.

Last season, they headed into the winter break with just 10 points from 17 matches. No team had previously managed to survive with such a poor record, but somehow Mönchengladbach turned it around.

Gerry Wittmann, founder of Bundesliga Fanatic, said: “I’d attribute their success to the hiring of Lucien Favre during the second half of last season, although the club made some moves during last season’s winter break that benefitted the club before Favre’s arrival, [such as] the signings of young defender Havard Nordtveit and veteran Martin Stranzl, along with veteran forward Mike Hanke.

“Favre is just an outstanding coach who was successful with both young players and veterans, getting everyone to play at the top of their game week in and week out.  Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have young stars such as Reus and ter Stegen, with Patrick Hermann coming along now too. Favre turned their awful defending around, and that in itself is huge.”

Founded in 1900, it wasn’t until the 1970s that Die Fohlen (or, The Foals) finally grew up. During that decade, they won five Bundesliga titles; two Uefa Cups; one German Cup; an Intercontinental Cup and finished runners-up in the European Cup.

However, their decline started steadily in the mid-eighties, and despite a German Cup win in 1995, they were relegated from the Bundesliga in 1999. Although they were promoted two seasons later, they were back down to 2.Bundesliga in 2007.

Now, under the guidance of Lucien Favre, and with a new wave of young stars led by Marco Reus, they are back – currently sitting 4th in the Bundesliga, and looking increasingly likely to qualify for the Champions League.

They may not win the title, but things certainly look a lot better than this time last year. And, this time next year, you could well be looking at genuine title contenders.