Gladbach are still searching for consistency, and their draw at the start of matchday 9 showed all of the reasons why. Ahead of a decisive set of fixtures, Gladbach have to find their attacking brain again.
Gladbach 0-0 Frankfurt
Andre Schubert's team looked comfortable in possession, but were a Brazilian and a Belgian short of inspiration on Friday night. Frankfurt, noticeably smarter and more solid than last season, had the better chances in an otherwise forgetful first forty-five. Former Gladbach man Branimir Hrgota hit the side netting and Marco Fabian blazed over inside the box with chances that Gladbach's possession warranted.
Gladbach's performances often show why they are in the Champions League, but this was not one of them. This 0-0 draw was not one of those thrilling, end-to-end games that could have ended 4-3. It wasn't even as exciting as the pair's meeting in the 1980 UEFA Cup final (Gladbach won over two legs). Frankfurt's defense was far too solid for that and Gladbach's attack too short of ideas. Oscar Wendt's idea to hit the ball as hard as he could inside the 18-yard-box was the best one of the game, but Lukas Hradecky made a brilliant reaction save to deny the Swede and the game a goal.
Gladbach's blank - their fourth consecutive Bundesliga game without a goal - on Friday night left them with three of each result this season. At first it was their away form that posed the problem, now it seems as though the club in the Champions League just lacks creativity without some of their leading attackers. Schubert admitted afterwards that things would be more creative when the likes of Raffael, Ibrahima Traore and Thorgan Hazard return, but the fact Gladbach remain reliant on such players shows how much work lies ahead of them.
In the pre-game press conference, both Max Eberl and Andre Schubert were keen to manage the rising expectations at the club. Champions League football for a second consecutive season is something this club wants to get used to, but is clearly still learning how to manage. For all of Eberl's wise words and Frankfurt's impressive display, this was another tepid performance from Gladbach. Even without Hazard and co. Gladbach had Mahmoud Dahoud, Lars Stindl, Fabian Johnson and Andre Hahn but they all disappointed.
Since their great escape from relegation in 2010/11, Gladbach have only twice not finished in the top four (eighth in 2012/13, sixth the season afterwards). Whatever their social media channel says, Borussia Mönchengladbach are far more than just a German team. They have become one of the country's top clubs again, but handling expectations is tough. Eberl said the club were heading to a new era after their win in Glasgow, but on this showing it's going to take a little longer to achieve than many might have the patience for.
Whatever the reason for their funk, Gladbach have to get themselves out of it ahead of a decisive set of fixtures. The draw against Hamburg was unlucky while this one against Frankfurt wast tough, but with only 10 goals in nine Bundesliga games, the free-flowing, attacking football that Gladbach prides themselves on has been stymied. It's time to find an answer, and fast.