Bundesliga 2019/20 finish
4th (Champions League qualification)
The 2019-20 Bundesliga season was another solid and exciting campaign for Borussia Mönchengladbach and their fans. Despite their eventual drop from the top of the Bundesliga standings in mid-December, Die Fohlen clinched fourth spot and Champions League football next year at the expense of local rivals Bayer Leverkusen by just two points.
Despite their great success last term and the rapid growth of some of their young stars, some of whom are now considered to be amongst the best in the Bundesliga, Gladbach have been able to hang onto the majority of their first-team squad for the upcoming season. That’s a great feat considering that players like 23-year-old Swiss midfielder Denis Zakaria had heavy interest from big Premier League outfits over the summer transfer window. Not only that but Gladbach have been able to add some key pieces to their puzzle in the form on Hannes Wolf from RB Leipzig and Valentino Lazaro from Inter Milan, both on loan with options to buy. Gladbach have an impressive history of shrewd business and these two acquisitions add much needed depth to a side that will be hoping to challenge in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal as well as trying to battle their way out of the Champions League group stages.
Likely starting XI
Alassane Pléa – Forward
With a plethora of stars at the club it’s difficult to pick just one key man for Gladbach next season. With the rock of Matthias Ginter at the back, the exciting tandem of Florian Neuhaus and Denis Zakaria at the base of the midfield and the impressive Marcus Thuram out wide, Gladbach won’t struggle to dominate certain matches in the Bundesliga again next term. Their success across all competitions pivots on goalscoring though and that’s why French man and main striker Alassane Pléa should be considered their key man next term.
Over the last two seasons the 27-year-old striker has been vital to Gladbach’s success. With 25 goals and 15 assists across 68 matches with Die Fohlen, Pléa has become their focal point in attack and his success has not gone unnoticed. Barcelona, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur were all said to be interested in acquiring the French striker at the start of the summer transfer window however Pléa will again begin next term as a Gladbach player.
Last season, the Frenchman shone again. With 10 goals and 10 assists in 27 Bundesliga matches, Gladbach’s number 14 in particular built a very strong partnership with new signing and left winger Marcus Thuram. The pair pushed Die Fohlen into the Champions League qualifying spots with their blistering work in attack. Pléa himself had five Bundesliga matches where he contributed more than just one goal/assist and his movement and intelligence off the ball led to those around him improving their individual performances season-long. His versatility to play on either wing if needed will also again be important to boss Marco Rose who’s squad will be tested across three different competitions.
If the French striker can stay relatively injury free for the majority of the season, don’t be surprised if he manages to notch 15+ goals across all competitions for Borussia Mönchengladbach during the 2020/21 campaign.
Signing to watch
Hannes Wolf – Midfield
With only two significant incoming transfers this summer, not much has changed at Borussia-Park. However, the singing of Hannes Wolf from Leipzig is as intriguing as it is sensible for all parties involved. Initially moving to Borussia-Park on loan, the club have a future buy clause for the Austrian U21 international that can be activated at the end of the upcoming season.
Just over a year ago, Wolf joined Leipzig from RB Salzburg for around €12 million after massively impressing with the Austrian champions. Scoring 16 times and assisting on 11 occasions through 52 Austrian Bundesliga matches prior to his 21st birthday, Wolf was considered one of Europe’s brightest prospects but in June 2019 the attacking midfielder suffered a horrific fractured leg injury that would rule him out of action for the best part of six months. The setback stunted his growth and despite returning to full fitness by the end of November 2019, Wolf has since only made 5 first-team appearances for Leipzig to date.
His move to Gladbach comes at a time where Wolf is trying to work his way back into regular first-team football and head coach Marco Rose plays a pivotal part in that. Rose and Wolf worked together for five years in Austria, firstly at the RB training centre in Liefering and then with the first team in Salzburg. Together they won the 2017 UEFA Youth League and went on to win two league titles and one cup as a pair with the Salzburg first-team.
Wolf’s versatility, which can see him play through the middle of the park or on either wing, will offer Rose much needed flexibility across Gladbach’s congested 20/21 fixture list. Known as one of Austrian’s most gifted and technical players, expect him to make a name for himself once again in Mönchengladbach this season.
A strong spine & exciting youngsters
A term that is always used when describing successful teams in football is that of a club having a ‘strong spine’ and that’s certainly the case when you look at this current Borussia Mönchengladbach side.
In the likely starting XI above, Sommer, Ginter, Elvedi, Zakaria, Neuhaus, Stindl and Plea make up the spine of Gladbach’s strongest squad. Goalkeeper Yann Sommer and centre-back Matthias Ginter between them have already played in 427 Bundesliga matches meaning their experience will be vital once again during the upcoming season. In midfield Zakaria and Neuhaus are both still young but operate well as a pairing, subsequently shielding the two centre backs whilst also offering attacking qualities. Lars Stindl is a veteran in the Bundesliga with 291 matches to his name whilst striker Alassane Pléa has vast experience playing at the top level in France as well as in the Bundesliga and previously in the Europa League with OGC Nice.
Gladbach also have one of the best young squads in Europe at present. Granted this can be viewed as a weakness overall as will be discussed below but individually the club boasts some of the best young talent in the world. 23-year-old winger Marcus Thuram shone in his first Bundesliga campaign last season with 10 goals and 8 assists whilst full-backs Jordan Beyer, 19, and Andreas Poulsen, 20, could be used more next year by boss Marco Rose after impressive individual loans last season at Hamburg and FK Austria Vienna respectively.
Lack of experience & squad depth
As mentioned before, this season Borussia Mönchengladbach will be fighting on three separate fronts for silverware and whilst qualifying for the pinnacle of European football last season was an amazing feat for Die Fohlen, their relative lack of squad experience could leave them exposed.
The relative lack of squad leadership should be of slight concern to boss Marco Rose who will look to figures like 32-year-old forward Lars Stindl and 31-year-old goalkeeper Yann Sommer to offer younger members of the squad some much needed experience. With an average age of 25.7 across the whole squad, Gladbach are still a juvenile team with most of their players void of any real European experience. Granted, Die Fohlen are unlikely to push far in the Champions League this season but the further they get in the competition, the more potential there is for a drop in form domestically as a result.
On paper, Gladbach also don’t have the strongest squad depth in the Bundesliga. A lot of their first team players do have the versatility to cover multiple positions if needed but if key players pick up injuries and suspensions, Marco Rose’s team could become considerably weaker as a result and in a season where they’re likely to play close to 50 matches, the lack of squad depth could become a big issue for the club.
In the regards to the Bundesliga final standings, most pundits and German football fans would again opt to put Borussia Mönchengladbach in the top four come the end of the season and qualify again for the following Champions League campaign.
Die Fohlen have added a few interesting pieces this summer in Wolf and Lazaro but their ability to hang on to their key players this transfer window should massively aid them in once again pushing for a top four Bundesliga finish. Those reasons coupled with the fact that their direct league rivals have become relatively weaker this summer due to the loss of key players, Havertz at Leverkusen and Werner at Leipzig, will mean that the Borussia Mönchengladbach hierarchy will again be looking to secure a top four finish in the 2020/21 Bundesliga season.