Borussia Monchengladbach enjoyed a comfortable return to Bundesliga action as they strolled to a 3-1 away victory against Eintracht Frankfurt. Alassane Plea‘s opener after just 37 seconds set the tone for the evening, and just six minutes later Marcus Thuram made it two.
Remy Bensebaini’s second-half penalty rubber-stamped the win for Borussia, against a Frankfurt side who could only muster a late Andre Silva consolation in response. The result lifts Marco Rose‘s men into third after Freiburg held Leipzig to a 1-1 draw.
Borussia Monchengladbach Move up to Third
A Stroll in the Park for Borussia Monchengladbach
Monchengladbach raced out of the traps when Jonas Hofmann laid the ball off to Plea in the area, and the pacy striker slid the ball home from close range. Minutes later, it was two. Marcus Thuram tapped in Bensebaini’s pullback, and that set the tone for the rest of the first half.
You’d probably expect Frankfurt’s players to respond positively after such a whirlwind start, but in truth, they looked lethargic throughout the whole contest. For the first 20 minutes, the hosts allowed Borussia to pass the ball around them at their leisure. The away side were more than happy to just keep possession and manage the game, with their 2-0 lead rarely looking under threat.
An Isolated Bas Dost
Bas Dost was isolated up front on his own for Frankfurt, as Adi Hutter played him as the lone striker ahead of a flat midfield five. And despite trailing, it took them a while to actually press when Borussia had the ball. Centre-back Koray Ginter played 26 passes in the opening 20 minutes, and holding midfielder Tobias Strobl had played 19.
Strobl, who was playing as a double pivot next to Florian Neuhas, often dropped deep to get the ball from the defenders. As Dost was the only striker playing in front of a deep midfield, it was easy for the away side to pass the ball around him as Strobl would create a three versus one passing triangle with the centre back and full back.
Frankfurt did start to press a little bit higher after this, but rarely forced a meaningful opening. In fact, their first exciting moment came from a Filip Costic free kick in the 22nd minute. The Serbian winger hit a piledriver of a shot which Yann Sommer parried into the path of Stefan Ilsanker, but the midfielder couldn’t force the rebound on target.
Borussia Monchengladbach’s Front Three
As Frankfurt started to press higher, Monchengladbach became happy to sit a little bit deeper and hit the hosts on the break. Their game management was outstanding throughout. In the first half, they limited Frankfurt to just 0.27 xG (expected goals).
On the counter-attack, the attacking midfield quartet of Hofmann, Plea, Thuram combined and interchanged fluidly with striker Breel Embolo. The powerful striker often operated as a false nine, using his upper body strength to hold the ball up whilst the pacy Plea and Thuram made runs in behind.
In fact, the game should have been well out of reach after half an hour. Plea got in behind Ndicka down the right side, and Thuram made a powerful run into the area. All he needed to do was play a simple low cross into his teammate, but he got it wrong and passed it straight into the goalkeeper’s arms.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s Lack of Potency
Despite improving in the second half, Adi Hutter’s men didn’t cause Monchengladbach too many problems. They brought on Andre Silva to partner Dost, and that did help them from an attacking point of view. Midfielder Djibril Sow made way, and Frankfurt changed to a back three. Daichi Kamada, who was on the right-wing moved central, and Alamamy Toure played as a right-wing-back.
Although they enjoyed more possession (54.4%) after the interval, Monchengladbach had better chances on the break. They registered an xG of 1.4 for the second half, while the hosts managed 0.65. It’s clear that the losses of Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic have hit them hard this season. But in this contest, they lacked a willing passer who could get on the ball and help them progress it through the thirds. Because of this, they resorted to keeping the ball at the back, or hitting aimless long balls up to the frustrated front two.
Penalty Seals the Deal
Monchengladbach put the result beyond all doubt after 73 minutes, taking a comfortable 3-0 lead. Neuhaus threaded a ball through to Embolo in the area, who went down under a challenge from Ndicka.
Bensabaini stepped up and slotted it home, but goalkeeper Kevin Trapp got a hand to it and should have kept it out.
The home side stepped it up for the final fifteen minutes. They did muster a consolation goal through Andre Silva, who sidefooted the ball over Sommer from the edge of the six-yard box.
The result lifts Borussia Monchengladbach into third, two points off Borussia Dortmund who returned to action with a 4-0 win over Schalke. while Frankfurt hover five points above the relegation play-off spot.
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