Borussia M’Gladbach – The ‘Dark Horse’ of the CL Group Stage?

Borussia Mönchengladbach are back in the Champions League after a four-year absence, having finished fourth by a mere two-point gap in the 2019/20 Bundesliga. It is a time for all connected with the club to look forward to a bright future.

While being placed in pot 4 for the Champions League draw provides a huge challenge for ‘Gladbach’, their standing as the highest-ranked side in that pot going into September has made them dark horses to make their upcoming European battle memorable for the right reasons.

How far could Borussia Mönchengladbach go in the Champions League?

A lot will depend on the Pot 1 opposition Gladbach face, and while there are no ‘easy’ opponents from the highest pot, there are certainly some near-unstoppable ones. For instance, sharing a group with La Liga winners Real Madrid, or English champions Liverpool – who are consistent favorites within live soccer matchday betting markets – would present an immediate problem. Indeed, German teams have been largely overshadowed in recent years by their Spanish and English counterparts.

Bayern Munich, as the immovable kings of German football, struck a blow for the Bundesliga by winning this year’s competition. They appear to be the only German team that is remotely equipped to win the contest again, with Borussia Dortmund amongst the realistic outsiders. Even so, Gladbach finished only four points behind Dortmund, and if granted an easier group than others, Gladbach have a better chance than most pot 4 teams in terms of progression.

What is Borussia Mönchengladbach’s best European result?

Gladbach reached the European Cup final in 1977, losing to Liverpool, and in turn giving the Reds their first of six European titles. They have fared better in the secondary UEFA competition, the UEFA Europa League (known as the UEFA Cup until 2009) winning it twice, albeit way back in 1979 on the latter occasion:

What characteristics might be expected from their CL games?

Strong starts were a major factor in seeing them get over the fourth-place finish line, having scored at least one first-half goal in all of their final four matches, striking nearly a third (21) of their 66 league goals in the first 30 minutes of play. Their home form was an additional boost, with Gladbach scoring in sixteen consecutive home league games, and netting an average of 2.35 goals per game as hosts.

Yet, with 82.35% of their Bundesliga home fixtures seeing both teams score, there is still room for defensive improvement, which will become all the more pressing if Gladbach ever find themselves holding out for progression via ‘away goals’.

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are the two German clubs likeliest to win the Champions League in 2021.

Who will be important for Borussia Mönchengladbach?

While not as feared as the respective front threes of Gladbach’s compatriots Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the sight of any two from Hannes Wolf, Lars Stindl and Breel Embolo, backed by the reliable central attacking midfielder Jonas Hofmann offers a deadly blend of youth and experience.

At present, Stindl makes most of the difference, but as a loanee from RB Leipzig, Wolf will be particularly eager to impress across all competitions.

How have ‘pot 4’ teams fared in recent years?

With pot 1 being reserved for the Champions League holders, the Europa League winners and the league Champions of the six highest-ranked UEFA nations, they are considered the strongest. Meanwhile, pot 4 invariably contains teams from lower-ranked UEFA nations, who often face far lesser competition en-route to their own league titles. In other cases, they may be non-title winning participants with no previous experience, and therefore a very low UEFA coefficient, which is the only other seeding factor beyond winning league titles or UEFA competitions.

Rightly or wrongly, pot 4 teams are seen as elimination fodder, and it is true that progression rates amongst such sides have been relatively poor overall. That was not the case last year though, with German side RB Leipzig and Italian outfit Atalanta both progressing from their respective groups despite being drawn from pot 4. While they can attribute much of their battle-readiness to ample resources, there is also the common denominator of being in very competitive leagues en-route to reaching the Champions League. Ultimately, this bodes well for Gladbach.


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