Bundesliga: Gladbach stay realistic in quest for Champions League return | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 14.02.2019
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Bundesliga: Gladbach stay realistic in quest for Champions League return

Dieter Hecking believes his Foals got over-confident ahead of their 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin. Before Sunday's trip to Frankfurt, Borussia Mönchengladbach are refocusing their energies - both on and off the pitch.

Visitors to Borussia Mönchengladbach's "Borussia-Park" stadium in recent months may have noticed the construction work in progress at the ground. The new "Borussia-8-Grad" (Borussia 8 Degrees) building behind the main stand cost €33m ($37.2m) and houses the club's new offices, the club museum, a fan shop, doctors' surgeries, a rehabilitation and fitness center, and a new 131-room hotel.

It was was officially opened on Thursday, and is a sign of economic development that is mirrored by the team's sporting success on the pitch. Eight degrees is not just the angle at which the new center is built; it is also the number of points separating the third-placed Foals from league leaders Borussia Dortmund ahead of matchday 22.

- Opinion: The Bundesliga has forgotten about Gladbach

Bundesliga 17. Spieltag | Borussia Dortmund vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Reuters/L. Kuegeler)

Florian Neuhaus (center) is enjoying a break-through season for Borussia Mönchengladbach

Remaining realistic

While Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich fight out the Bundesliga's first real title race in six years, the black, white and green Borussia have quietly returned to contention for a top-four spot. Some have even tipped Dieter Hecking's side as potential title challengers.

"It's tempting but we have to be realistic," midfielder Florian Neuhaus told kicker magazine this week. "Dortmund and Bayern are used to this situation. They know what it's like to battle at the top and that's what sets them apart from us."

Neuhaus, 21, is enjoying a breakthrough season. With two goals and eight assists from central midfield, the former Fortuna Düsseldorf loanee has impressed with his creativity and vision. He is one of the reasons Gladbach have the third most deadly attack in the league, and behind him, a back line of unspectacular names has combined to form the Bundesliga's second-best defense with goalkeeper Yann Sommer keeping ten clean sheets.

Bor. Mönchengladbach - FC Augsburg | Trainer Dieter Hecking (picture-alliance/dpa/R. Weihrauch)

Veteran Bundesliga coach Dieter Hecking has reinvented himself

Need to refocus 

It's been an impressive development under Hecking, a Bundesliga veteran with a more conservative reputation who nevertheless has his Foals playing a brand of football more associated with Germany's younger generation of coaches. The 54-year-old's experience from over 400 Bundesliga games will now be vital as Gladbach look to recover from their biggest setback of the season so far.

Last weekend's 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin didn't just end dreams of setting a historic club record of 13 straight home wins, it was also a missed opportunity to take points on a weekend when Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt and Wolfsburg all dropped points.

"The record wasn't important," insisted Hecking. "But when a young team suddenly establishes itself at the top, it's not that easy to process. Maybe a few players thought we've made it. I think that played a role."

Against Hertha, Gladbach lost their patience in attack, their precision and their defensive structure. Crucially, they had no answer to Davie Selke's rapid acceleration. They will have to find a solution ahead of Sunday's trip to Frankfurt where they will play an Eintracht side who average more sprints per game (250) than anybody else and whose front three of Luka Jovic, Sebastien Haller and Ante Rebic have scored 32 league goals between them.

Gladbach bounced back from their previous four defeats with Bundesliga victories. A repeat performance in Frankfurt would see them go 12 points clear of the fifth-placed Eagles and on course for a return to the Champions League. There's no time for Gladbach to rest on their laurels at the new hotel at Borussia-Park, but maybe there's room for dreaming.

Bundesliga Matchday 22 (all times CET)

Augsburg vs. Bayern Munich (Friday, 20:30)

Stuttgart vs. RB Leipzig (Saturday, 15:30)
Schalke  vs. Freiburg
Wolfsburg vs. Mainz 
Hoffenheim vs. Hannover
Hertha Berlin vs. Werder Bremen

Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sunday, 15:30)
Bayer Leverkusen vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf (Sunday, 18:00)

Nuremberg vs. Borussia Dortmund (Monday, 20:30)