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Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Battle Of The Borussias : The Absence Of Reus, Gundogan's Failure And A Poor Gotze Show

Borussia Monchengladbach hosted defending champions Borussia Dortmund last night, in a game of utmost importance for both clubs. The two teams were joint table toppers before the game and were looking to keep that spot with a win. Monchengladbach were without their highly influential attacker Marco Reus while Dortmund were missing the services of Moritz Leitner, Sven Bender and Neven Subotic.

The absence of Reus saw Raul Bobadilla start alongside Mike Hanke in attack. This meant that Lucian Favre started with a 4-4-1-1 as opposed to the regular 4-2-3-1. Jurgen Klopp continued with his staple 4-2-3-1.




Both teams started fairly shabbily, with Monchengladbach looking the better team for the first thirty minutes. Dortmund found their way after the half hour mark, mainly thanks to Kagawa's movement into channels behind Neustadter. Dortmund finally managed to find a goal, courtesy Lewandowski, in the final minutes of the first half.

Monchengladbach came into the second half with a lot more intent. Dortmund failed to pressurize Die Fohlen in the midfield and were punished in the 72nd minute. The game ended 1-1, putting Bayern Munich(who beat Bremen 4-1) at the summit if the Bundesliga.

Gundogan and Kehl were outdone by Neustadter and Nordtveit

With Bender and Leitner out injured, Klopp used Ikay Gundogan as Sebastian Kehl's partner in midfield. Gundogan was all over the place in the first half, but failed to help in building for Dortmund. Primarily used as a destroyer, Gundogan stayed around the center of the field, choosing not to help his team out in attack. Kehl, on the other hand, was completely anonymous throughout the game. He didn't even show the tenacity that his partner did throughout the ninety minutes.

Monchengladbach's less known midfield pairing of Harvard Nordtveit and Roman Neustadter were extremely efficient in keeping Kagawa quiet in the second half. Kagawa did give them a tough time in the last fifteen minutes of the first half. But, the duo completely shutdown Kagawa in the second half by preventing him from squeezing into those little between themselves and Dante.

Neustadter and Nordtveit closed that channel down very effectively

A lack of support for Gotze proved costly

Prior to this game, pundits would have expected Mario Gotze to give Gladbach captain Filip Daems a hard time down the right flank. Ninety minutes later, experience reigned supreme. Gundogan's failure to attack and Kagawa's affinity for the left side of attack, made Gotze Dortmund's sole threat down the right. The 19-year-old struggled all night against Daems and was eventually substituted in the 77th minute.

Gotze continues to struggle at Borussia-Park
Gotze was most threatening only while taking corners for Dortmund, with a corner leading to Dortmund's goal. The best moment for Gotze came just before he was substituted. A rare instance saw Kagawa move into space on the right side, and put Gotze through on goal following a brilliant one-two, but the German was let down by his finish.


Reus' presence could have destroyed Die Borussen

If Favre did have Marco Reus at his disposal, Gladbach could well have been sitting atop the Bundesliga at the moment. Reus would have provided a far better link between Gladbach's defensive midfield duo and their attacking unit. Gundogan and Kehl's horizontal movement would have been a gift to Reus, giving him acres of space to move into and wreak havoc against the Dortmund defence.

Kehl and Gundogan's lack of movement up and down the field could have costed Dortmund if Reus was around

Reus would have interchanged positions regularly with the likes of Mike Hanke and Patrick Hermann, causing a great deal of confusion in the Dortmund defence. Luckily for Dortmund, Reus was injured and Raul Bobadilla was in the squad. Bobadilla provided a good deal of strength in attack, but removed that "extra dimension" from Gladbach's attack.


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