Borussia Monchengladbach lost their second consecutive match coming out of the Winter break as they fell to Mainz and a superb strike from Christian Clemens last night.
It was the hosts’ first league win of the new year after a narrow loss to Ingolstadt last weekend, and they now appear as a threat to Monchengladbach’s European qualification hopes. After a disappointing match for Die Fohlen, Outside90’s David Jordan looks at the main talking points coming out from the clash.
Enough time and Space, anyone can do that
While Clemens’ top corner striker was undoubtedly a wonderful goal, he does owe a little to the sagging defence of the visitors. Martin Hinteregger and Oscar Wendt both took instinctive steps back as Clemens received the ball outside the box, but failed to react when he slowed up and prepared to shoot.
The lack of pressure on the ball undoubtedly helped Clemens steady, and it almost appeared an over-reaction to last weekend’s defensive frailties against Borussia Dortmund. There, Gladbach’s defenders were caught out as they rushed the ball carrier and allowed men behind, but it appears that Andre Schubert has a bit of work that needs to be done on the backline.
What are the odds of Mainz going top four?
Last night’s win has brought Mainz to within two points of Gladbach and fourth spot, and at what point does one begin to wonder if Die Nullfünfer can breach the top four? While it is a tough nut to crack, and they will be up against the bigger teams to do so, Martin Schmidt’s men have shown so far this season that they are not afraid to take on a challenge.
Mainz have now completed the double over Gladbach for 2015-16 having taken the three points at Borussia Park on the second match day of the season, and also have the scalp of Wolfsburg from their one meeting, so their pedigree against the top teams does not need too much improvement.
Home defence proves one to be reckoned with
With Lorius Karius in goal and the pairing of Stefan Belogun and Leon Bell in front, all across the backline Mainz’ defensive members combine for a fantastic rearguard performance. Karius contributed with six saves from Gladbach’s 12 shots, while Belogun and Bell did a fantastic job of making sure that the visitors’ shots were under-pressure and as nervous as possible, despite dominating the majority of the match.
The back four combined for a brilliant 13 tackles against one of the most dangerous forward lines in the league who attempted 30 take-ons during the match, which gives an indication of the threat that they held out. If the Mainz defence continues like this for the rest of the season, then there is zero doubt that they can push themselves towards the top part of the table.
Monchengladbach have begun the second-half of the season exactly as they did the first, with losses to Borussia Dortmund and Mainz, and will face Werder Bremen next weekend. The reverse of this fixture was a 2-1 victory for Bremen, but Andre Schubert needs to make sure that his side do not begin a downhill slide like the early campaign.
For Mainz, they sit only two points behind Gladbach now, and are looking like a side that could really make ground in the second-half of the season. Next week, they face Hannover, which presents itself as a winnable game – something that Mainz must make the most of if they are to progress in 2015-16.