Borussia Mönchengladbach is proving once again to be one of Bundesliga’s most underrated teams. In 2020 they are managed by Marco Rose and lead by a talented roster of players. Gladbach looks like a potential title-chaser in not the too distant future. Here are the tactics employed in 2020 by one of Germany’s most beloved teams, Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Marc Rose’s career
Marc Rose is part of a host of German managers firmly establishing themselves in modern international football. He is known, primarily, as the former manager of Red Bull Salzburg. The Austrian corporate-backed team managed a series of impressive results. The fact that Rose never lost a home game as manager of Salzburg stands as a testament to his quality as a tactician.
Borussia Mönchengladbach employed Marc Rose as football manager at the start of the 2019/20 campaign. This was to be a period of transition. It followed in the tracks of an unexpectedly strong season.
Gladbach, however, were a changed side by the time of Rose’s arrival. Star players Thorgan Hazard and Michael Cuissance transferred to Bundesliga rivals. Dieter Hecking, the previous manager, switched loyalties to Hamburger SV. The new man in charge faced an uphill battle.
Rose’s style of play
Marc Rose always seemed destined for a career in football management. His largely uneventful playing career ended at 33. Soon afterward he devoted himself entirely to his coaching career.
Rose, like other famous contemporary German managers, focuses heavily on pressing. His teams are instructed to try to win the ball high up the pitch. Little energy is sparred in this effort. Aggressive pressing begins at the attacking level. Ideally, this forces teams to play long balls forward. Often, this leads to mistakes that allow Borussia to regain possession and mount a counterattack.
Mönchengladbach’s players are also known to purposely leave passing spaces. These passing avenues are, however, monitored closely by the team’s players. Using speed and aggression, they try to quickly intercept the ball.
Marc Rose is also recognized for employing so-called rest phases. These leave the team’s players to regroup after a succession of attacks. During these sessions, the team is known to overload the central area of the pitch. This is done in order to close play and force their opponents into making errors.
Borussia Mönchengladbach tactics and formations
Borussia Mönchengladbach found themselves, unexpected title challengers, last season. This campaign, while performances have oscillated, they are in a similarly strong position. The fact that they are battling against the likes of Bayern, RB Leipzig, and Borussia Dortmund is no small feat.
Marc Rose‘s preferred formation is the 4-3-2-1 frame. This transitions into a 4-4-2 when defending and looking to force the opposition into wider areas. Similar to his days coaching Salzburg, in the rest phase, the team moves into a 4-3-1-2.
The use of double pivots is vital to Gladbach‘s success. However, it should be noted that other Bundesliga teams, Bayern in particular, also utilize this tactic. Christoph Kramer and Florian Neuhaus usually occupy these positions. Lars Stindl, an attacking midfielder with great positional play, will often drop further down to assist them.
Gladbach in defense
Marc Rose has changed plenty about Borussia Mönchengladbach’s setup since last season. Once established, his preferred line-up has mostly remained consistent. Matthias Ginter and Nico Elvedi’s partnership in central defense has been particularly lauded.
Borussia Mönchengladbach’s players form a tightly-knit group. This accounts, largely, for their success. With that being said, goalkeeper Yann Sommer is the breakout star of the group. The Swiss goalie is blessed with, not only, great reflexes, but great control on the ball.
While the aggressive, forward pressing may seem like a risky strategy, it has dividends. Die Fohlen have the fourth-strongest defensive record in the Bundesliga.
Yann Sommer’s passing skills are utilized often in build-up play. Not only does he often start the attacking phases. Sommer is also used as a passing option by the team’s wing-backs when they are unable to move the ball forward.
Oscar Wendt and Stefan Lainer, the usual choices for wing-backs, help shape the team’s attack. They engage opponents in a modern style, moving high up the pitch and linking play with midfielders.
Furthermore, defensive midfielders (Zakaria, Kramer, Neuhaus) will tend to move down and create triangle shapes between themselves and the defenders. Borussia tries to overload midfield areas in a bid to maintain possession.
The final part of the attacking puzzle is represented by the vertical passes and quick transitions. This is helped in no small part by Mönchengladbach’s highly technical players. Strikers Alassane Plea, Patrick Herrmann, and Marcus Thurman are capable target-men that can profit from quick counter-attacks.
Borussia Mönchengladbach beyond the 2019/20 season
At the time of writing, Borussia Mönchengladbach is battling for a top-four conclusion to their season in the Bundesliga. Consequently, this translates into Champions League football. It’s a magnificent achievement, especially given the team’s strong previous campaign.
Could Gladbach have achieved even more? Yes! The team was often dominant against their more famous rivals, Bayern or Dortmund. Thuram and Plea are two of the best forwards in the league this year. Sommer is one of the strongest keepers across Europe. Gladbach also features capable, hard-working midfielders and defenders.
However, opportunities were often wasted foolishly. Leverkusen, Hertha, and Hoffenheim all grabbed points against Rose’s team. This has ultimately hurt their chances of winning the Bundesliga. Certainly, it would have been one of the biggest surprises in modern football.
Regardless, Marc Rose affirms expectations. He is one of Germany’s best tacticians. No doubt he is on the radar of some of Europe’s biggest clubs. His methods and the bravery shown by Borussia Mönchengladbach’s players account for their strong campaign.