For a long time, the autumn championship seemed to be just the possible icing on the cake of an inspiring first series for borussia monchengladbach.
After the unexpected and unfortunate first-round exit from the european league, coach marco rose’s team suddenly has something to lose in the fubball bundesliga. The last-minute defeat in the decisive group match against basaksehir istanbul, 2-1, means that borussia can only achieve something this season in its home league.
"The autumn championship pays for the whole championship. It’s therefore extremely important that we get all our points," said right-back stefan lainer ahead of league duties at vfl wolfsburg on sunday (15.30/sky), against paderborn and at hertha BSC. In order not to go into the winter break with the paradox of a negative mood after what was actually a successful first half of the season. As strange as it sounds, the bundesliga leaders have already forfeited two of their goals for the season by dropping out of the DFB cup and now the european cup as well.
"We will stand up again," rose proclaimed defiantly. The 43-year-old will have to prepare his team for the mental challenges that came with the mood killer against an average team from istanbul. "We’ve shown many times that we can do it," said attacker patrick herrmann.
Indeed, borussia responded impressively to setbacks such as the 4-0 loss to wolfsberg in the european cup opener or the unfortunate 2-1 loss in the cup in dortmund with victories against dusseldorf and in leverkusen. Still, the disgraceful european league exit in what should have been a feasible group raises questions.
Basaksehir’s last-minute winner by enzo crivelli dropped gladbach from first to third place in the standings. Two million euros in additional revenue were lost in one fell swoop. "It’s hard to put into words," herrmann confessed dejectedly after 90 superior minutes.
But the end is not undeserved in the aggregate. Unlike in the league, with its sometimes inspiring performances, gladbach never really warmed up to the european competition. The eleven from the lower rhine scored three times in the 1-1 in istanbul, the 1-1 at AS rom and the 2-1 at home against roma only shortly before the end. As in the 2-1 win against bayern in the last bundesliga top match, the borussians were celebrated for their mental attitude. Lars stindl’s penalty goal in injury time in rome, for example, was based on a capital error by the referee. "Maybe we had already used up our luck in this competition," said lainer, after a late goal against had now decisively affected borussia itself.
That the gladbachers are now at an advantage over their rivals bayern, leipzig or dortmund in the jerk series due to their full concentration on the league, could turn out to be a fallacy. Borussia’s squad is also strong across the board and geared to three competitions. "We would have liked to have had more games in the spring to get as many people playing as possible. We don’t have that option now," said rose, who in recent weeks has been able to rotate through the english weeks at will without any noticeable loss of quality.
Should borussia start the second half of the season without injury worries, as is currently the case, there is a threat of dissatisfaction. "Now we have a tough competition," the coach groaned, adding with his usual self-confidence: "but we’ll manage that, too." At least on this bitter evening it sounded a bit tortured.