Borussia Monchengladbach stormed home to their first win since the Bundesliga’s holiday break, with a rampaging 5-1 triumph over Werder Bremen on Friday Night.
A brace for Andreas Christensen complemented goals from Raffael, Lars Stindl and Harvard Nordtveit, while Claudio Pizarro pulled one back for Bremen from the penalty spot. Pizarro’s spot-kick marked his 182nd goal in the Bundseliga and put him up to equal fifth in the all-time standings with Ulf Kirsten.
Gladbach lined up in their usual 4-4-2 formation, with Martin Hinteregger partnering Andreas Christensen in the heart of defence, while Nordtveit again deputised in central-midfield for the suspended Granit Xhaka.
Monchengladbach starting XI: Sommer; Elvedi, Hinteregger, Christo, Wendt; Hazard, Nordtveit, Dahoud, Johnson; Stindl, Raffael
Bremen also took to the field in a 4-4-2 formation, however, their central-midfielders failed to provide the same support Nordtveit and Dahoud offered. Claudio Pizarro began up front alongside Anthony Ujah, yet the Bremen forward line struggled to penetrate for the majority of the match and took a number of speculative and blocked shots as opposed to clean looks.
Werder Bremen starting XI: Wiedwald; Djilobodji, Vestergaard, Selassie, Guwara; Kleinheisler, Fritz, Junuzovic, Oztunali; Ujah, Pizzaro
Right time, Right Place
Evident for Monchengladbach’s first two goals was the footballing intelligence and presence of mind possessed by the home players. Stindl’s perfect run provided the end result after great spacing and a great cross from Thorgan Hazard for the opener, while Andreas Christensen’s presence at the back post during a seemingly innocuous move finished off the second of Die Fohlen’s goals.
This movement and spacing stretched the Bremen defence as Gladbach attacked, forcing players to move out and stop protecting the danger area in the box.
Bremen failed to respond to the threat offered by a stretching Foals side, with Clemens Fritz and Zlatko Junuzovic hardly providing enough support to the defense from the holding position. This was a key part of Gladbach’s win undoubtedly, but also a great display of offensive intelligence going forward against other teams.
Nordtveit the foil for Dahoud’s youthful attack
Mahmoud Dahoud is no stranger to attack and often races forward from midfield, however, his youthful excitement appears to get the better of him on occasion, as in this match. The youngster’s heat map indicates a lot of forward movement, a highlight being the wide pass to Hazard ahead of the first goal, but there is a distinct lack of defensive cover compared to midfield partners.
Nordtveit can be something of a midfield general when he is in form, and he took upon that role as Dahoud looked to move further forward. The youngster did so with a touch too much eagerness, committing three different fouls in the attacking half during the match, as Gladbach looked to drum home their advantage.
Bremen’s Central Midfielders Lack Forward Punch
As mentioned above, Fritz and Junuzovic struggled to drop back and help on defence, but the central-midfield pairing also lacked punch moving forward, leaving a significant amount of untouched space deep past the halfway point of the field. Strong down the right throughout the match, but without that central spark, Bremen’s midfield duo were unable to provide the anchor that Bremen needed throughout the match, as their opponent’s pressured through the middle.
This was a much needed win for Andre Schubert and his men, with Die Fohlen now moving back into fourth place on the table after three games of the Bundesliga campaign’s second-half. This result halted a run of the two losses that begin this period, and with only the domestic league to focus on, the Foals have few excuses as they look to remain in the four come season’s end.
With a match against Ingolstadt next weekend, Bremen now find themselves sitting in 16th, a relegation playoffs spot, as the season now really begins to heat up. Sitting four points behind Ingolstadt, a win next weekend is vital, but it looks as though Bremen may struggle to find it on the basis of this form.