By Colin Stone
Can one player really be the heart and soul of a team? It certainly looks that way at Borussia Monchengladbach.
Following this weekend’s 5-0 drubbing at the hands of reigning champions Dortmund, Lucien Favre’s men looked a complete shell of their former selves. Despite starting the game strongly, the plucky overacheivers, who remarkably finished 4th last season, collapsed as ex-Gladbach star Marco Reus tore his old side apart.
The Foals are yet to rediscover the slickness and efficiency that made them so successful last season, and some put that down to the exit of the wonderfully talented Reus.
There’s no doubt that the 23-year-old was the key driving force behind Gladbach’sincredible run to 4th place and the Champions League qualifiers last year, but not many suspected that his summer departure would have as dramatic an effect as it has.
Marko Marin’s exit from the side in 2009 had been handled relatively smoothly, and with the likes of Juan Arango, Mike Hanke, Marc-André Ter Stegen and Patrick Herrmann remaining at the Borussia-Park, fans and pundits alike were confident that the loss of Reus would be relatively painless.
How wrong they were.
The gaping void left by Reus is yet to be truly filled, summer arrival Luuk De Jong has not been firing on all cylinders and the defence lacks discipline.
Although both teams had early chances in Saturday’s game, it was destined that Marco Reus would be the one to put his former side to the sword.
The German international began the rout in style ten minutes before half-time, picking the ball up in his opponents’ half, skipping past the defence and slotting coolly past Ter Stegen in goal.
Despite holding the champions at bay for much of the half, Gladbach’s horrible attempts to mark Dortmund’s big men were laid bare as Neven Subotic doubled his side’s lead five minutes shy of the interval with a strong header.
After threatening several times early in the second period, Marco Reus scored once again to put to bed any hopes of a comeback, audaciously curling the ball past the helpless keeper.
Christofer Heimeroth replaced the injured Ter Stegen shortly afterwards, but he still had to pick the ball out of the net a further two times in the last twelve minutes, thanks to Ilkay Gundogan and Kuba.
Saturday’s embarrassing 5-0 drubbing leaves Gladbach rooted in the bottom half of the table with only six points from as many games, whilst Dortmund climb to third.
Dortmund themselves were much improved following their midweek draw with high-flying Eintracht Frankfurt. Jurgen Klopp’s imperious and impenetrable defence, which seemingly evaporated as it shipped three goals on Tuesday (as well as another three the previous Saturday), returned to its sturdy self, whilst the attacking threat, cancelled out for long spells by Frankfurt, regained its potency.
But with Jurgen Klopp facing a touchline ban for his midweek temper tantrum, it remains to be seen whether or not Dortmund can maintain this rampant style of play without him.
Elsewhere in Germany, promoted side Fortuna Dusseldorf finally conceded their first goals of the season during their 2-2 draw with Schalke.
However, it seems that some of the stinging abuse the club has come in for over the past few weeks for their defensive resolve and drab performances ensured that the floodgates were bound to open sooner rather than later.
Star striker Dani Schahin, who netted twice for the home side at the weekend, admitted that the stick being received was not welcome.
“The accusations don’t hurt me, they annoy me,” he said. “They did my balls in.”
Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Joel Matip’s goals had given Huub Stevens’ side a well-deserved 2-0 lead on Friday night, but two strikes from Schahin ensured that the game ended all square.
Fortuna, along with Bayern Munich and fellow promoted side Frankfurt, remain unbeaten in the league this season.
Gameweek 6 – Results
Werder Bremen 0-2 Bayern Munich
Wolfsburg 0-2 Mainz
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Greuther Furth
Borussia Dortmund 5-0 Gladbach
Hamburg 1-0 Hannover
Nuremberg 0-2 Stuttgart
Hoffenheim 0-0 Augsburg
Fortuna Dusseldorf 2-2 Schalke
Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Freiburg