Mainz 1-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

The first half formations.

Mainz took a huge step towards Europa League qualification after overcoming ten-man Borussia Mönchengladbach with a late goal from André Schürrle.

Round 30 began on Friday night with a game between two sides experiencing seasons beyond their wildest dreams. Hosts Mainz came into this match against Mönchengladbach in 5th spot – looking well set to secure a spot in next season’s Europa League, despite briefly flirting with qualification for the Champions League up until a few weeks ago. However, their last win in the league was nearly a month and a half ago. Their visitors, on the other hand, had ambitions of at least finishing in mid-table at the start of the season, but with five games to go, they came into this game bottom of the table. Nevertheless, they thrashed Köln 5-1 last week, giving their survival hopes a shot in the arm (Mainz lost 2-0 to Hannover, perhaps finally ending any lingering Champions League hopes). Thomas Tuchel had several key players missing for this game, including Bo Svensson, Nikolce Noveski, Jan Šimák, Zsolt Lőw, Ádám Szalai, and Heinz Müller. Visiting coach Lucien Favre was blessed in comparison – the only notable absentees being Paul Stalteri and Igor de Camargo. Intriguingly, both coaches seemed to ditch the status quo in naming their line-up’s, picking more offensive formations than was expected. Continue reading

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