Posts Tagged ‘Borussia Mönchengladbach’

It could have been an England shirt.

Every club makes mistakes when it comes to young players. Lewis Holtby was Borussia Monchengladbach’s.

Having joined their youth team at age 11, he was told at 14 that he was “too small and too slow.”

Holtby made the move to Alemannia Aachen, and following their relegation from the Bundesliga, he made his debut at the age of 17, although he was far from a regular.

He did establish himself in the first team the following season, and it wasn’t long before scouts from many a Bundesliga club were looking at him. The side that did get him was Schalke 04.

After half a season with The Royal Blues, he was sent out on loan to VfL Bochum to gain more experience. Gain experience is exactly what he did, playing 14 times, scoring twice and showing a lot of potential.

That potential began to turn into something substantial and consistent with a second loan move, this time to Mainz 05 for the duration of the 2010/11 season. It was, ultimately, the making of him.

Given plenty of freedom and with little expectation, he shone at Mainz, playing 30 games and establishing himself as something of a creative force, in particular one with an eye for a pass.

His form didn’t go unnoticed by the national side. He was handed the captain’s armband of the U21 side, and a full cap came at the end of the 2010/11 season in the Euro 2012 qualifier against Azerbaijan.

The ended any aspirations the English FA may have had of persuading Holtby to pledge his allegiance to the country of his father’s birth. However, we may yet see Holtby in England, as like his father (a soldier from Liverpool, who was stationed in Monchengladbach) he is an Everton fan, and has made no secret of his desire to play for them.

As it stands at club level, he is progressing very nicely at Schalke, with the only criticism being he needs to add more goals to his game. At international level, his biggest problem is competition – with the likes of Gotze, Kroos, Ozil et al chances are going to be few and far between. Next time he gets one, he needs to take it.

Dynamic operator in the midfield who brings out the best of those around him. Terrific work-rate. Fast-tracked into the national side to keep him out of the clutches of the dastardly English – that’s how highly he’s rated.” John Dobson, journalist. @dopsonjp

The video below shows some Holtby highlights…

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.