Freiburg 3-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

The starting systems.

Papiss Cissé continued to show why Wolfsburg are intent on buying him to replace Edin Džeko, as his brace and fantastic performance helped Freiburg defeat Mönchengladbach. Gladbach remain rooted in relegation trouble, but had they taken some of the numerous chances that came their way in the first half, the result would have been so much different here.

Both sides went into the game affected by injuries to their backline – goalkeeper Simon Pouplin, Pavel Krmaš and Ömer Toprak were missing for the home side, along with attackers Tommy Bechmann and Kisho Yano. Nevertheless, Freiburg knew a win would lift them above Bayern Munich into fifth spot. Gladbach were also shorn of their first-choice custodian (Logan Bailly), along with Brazilian centre-backs Dante and Anderson. Even more significant for a side looking to prevent it being four defeats on the spin was the absence of the super-talented 21-year-old Marco Reus, and Raúl Bobadilla – fined and banned after a stupid red card against Hannover in round 15.

Borussia Mönchengladbach started at a great pace, taking the game to their hosts, and getting their full-backs up the pitch. But this urgency was soon exposed when Freiburg used a restart to draw three Gladbach pressers towards the box, before going long and allowing Cedric Makiadi to carry the ball at the away side’s defence (he was fouled, the subsequent free-kick squandered). Robin Dutt, as is his way, ensured that his side always started short from the ‘keeper, trying to draw their guests on, or enacting patience and looking for the best pass.  Continue reading

Will Steve McClaren resuscitate Wolfsburg?

England’s Wally With The Brolly left FC Twente at just the right moment. Having delivered the league title and a spot in the Champions League group stage, McClaren will forever hold a place in the club’s history.

But with the centre-forward bound for MLS, the left-winger returning to Chelsea after a loan spell, chief playmaker nearing retirement, and the right winger, left-sided centre-back, and left-back potentially lured elsewhere, the replication of last season’s feat looks very difficult.

FC Twente, 2009/10

McClaren’s Overijssel outfit operated in what was deemed 4-3-3. However, the actuality of the system altered from what was stated on the tin. Two hard-working shuttlers flanked a regista in the centre, and the inside-out wingers would drop back. On-ball, they’d always cut infield – Miroslav Stoch tending to shoot, and Bryan Ruiz making disguised through-balls.

Twente weren’t much fun to watch, however. They’d start play via very cynical, overdrawn melina. Then, one of Douglas or Dwight Tiendalli would carry the ball forward at pace. Alternatively, one of the showing widemen or Kenneth Perez would drop, collect, and instigate. McClaren stuck by this system with great rigidity, and it served him well.

The tools currently available at his new employers, VFL Wolfsburg, won’t allow him to employ a similar system. So does McClaren bring his tried and tested tactics across, or adjust to the formula currently in place at the 8th-placed Bundesliga finishers? Continue reading