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Bombastic Borussia continue Bundesliga title charge

December 1, 2019

Borussia Mönchengladbach stormed back to the top of the Bundesliga with a 4-2 victory over Freiburg. The result put the Foals four points clear of fourth-place Bayern Munich, who visit Borussia Park next week.

Fußball Bundesliga SC Freiburg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
Image: Imago Images/Nordphoto

Two ferocious power-plays at the start of each half helped Borussia Mönchengladbach overcome Freiburg on Sunday to extend their reign at the top of the Bundesliga into a seventh consecutive week.

Given the nature of the Foals' football this season — particularly in the Bundesliga, and particularly at home at Borussia Park — it was fitting that the goals fell as they did, Gladbach overwhelming their opponents with periods of irresistible power football and with re-invigorated Swiss striker Breel Embolo invariably involved.

The six minutes immediately after the break against Freiburg were typical. Less than a minute had been played in the second half when Gladbach won the ball in midfield and Embolo exchanged rapid passes with Patrick Herrmann to put his team 2-1 up.

Just three minutes later, the 22-year-old was at it again, driving into the box and winning a penalty which he then failed to convert, but he made up for it in the very next attack, squaring for Herrmann who made it three.

High, aggressive pressing to win the ball, quick transitions with a numerical advantage, and in-form strikers scoring goals for fun, such is the philosophy, instilled by head coach Marco Rose, which has seen Gladbach win six straight home games in all competitions and has supporters dreaming of a first Bundesliga title since 1977.

Fußball Bundesliga SC Freiburg - Borussia Mönchengladbach
The Breel Deal: Breel Embolo was the stand-out man against FreiburgImage: picture-alliance/Fotostand/Van der Velden

Yet Gladbach are more than just quick counter-attacks; in Florian Neuhaus and Denis Zakaria, the Foals' lined up against Freiburg with a midfield paring which offered tough tackling, positional awareness, creativity and youth, while Laszlo Benes is finding his feet under Rose. Tobias Strobl and Christoph Kramer remained on the bench.

In Yann Sommer, Gladbach can call upon one of the Bundesliga's most underrated goalkeepers as a last resort, but the key to their success so far this season is in attack. Embolo and Herrmann stood out on Sunday but it's Marcus Thuram who leads the way, the 22-year-old son of French World Cup winner Lilian notching his ninth goal of the season against Freiburg.

With Lars Stindl, Alesanne Plea and Raffael all on the bench, Rose has an embarrassment of attacking riches at his disposal, a result of savvy work in the transfer market by sporting director Max Eberl, recently crowned "shopping king” by kicker magazine in recognition of his transfer dealings.

Fußball Bundesliga Borussia Mönchengladbach - FSV Mainz 05 Max Eberl
Sporting director Max Eberl pulls the strings in MönchengladbachImage: picture-alliance/nordphoto/Meuter

'Shopping king'

In recent years, the 46-year-old has recouped almost €100m ($110m) from the sales of Granit Xhaka, Jannik Vestergaard, Michael Cuisance, Mahmoud Dahoud and Thorgan Hazard alone, money which has been wisely reinvested both in players and infrastructure in Mönchengladbach, including a hotel.

Eberl moved quickly and decisively midway through last season to announce the departure of former coach Dieter Hecking, paving the way for the recruitment of the much-coveted Rose from Red Bull Salzburg. The move has paid off, and it's no wonder that Bayern Munich have the native Bavarian on their radar as a potential sporting director.

Bayern's interest will only increase should Gladbach go on to end their seven-year domination of German football – but there are still 21 games to go, the first of which is against Bayern at Borussia Park next Saturday, Germany's traditional "Klassiker” in which Gladbach could open up a seven-point lead over the champions.

And that would be a serious Gladbach power-play.