Manuel Veth –
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Wolfsberg – Thursday, September 19, 20:00BST/21:00CEST – Borussia Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany
It has been a solid start for head coach Marco Rose at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Joining the club from Red Bull Salzburg this summer Rose has guided the club to seven points in the first four games, including an vital derby triumph over rivals 1.FC Köln on Saturday.
“We played an excellent game over 90 minutes,” midfielder Christoph Kramer said after the game. “We should have perhaps wrapped it up a bit sooner but that way the derby victory feels even better,” Kramer added.
That game, in particular, showed the blueprint of the sort of football Rose wants to play this season. Gladbach started in a 4-3-1-2 formation with the quick Breel Embolo (more on him below) playing off two fast strikers in the form of Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea. Tactically it was in many ways similar to the sort of football Rose played with Salzburg over the last two seasons, high press and aggressive his sides want to dominate games.
It is the sort of football Thursday’s opponent in the Europa League will be all too familiar with. Visiting the Borussia Park will be Austrian side Wolfsberger AC.
Wolfsberger AC were the surprise package in the Austrian Bundesliga last season, and under head coach Christian Ilzer Wolfsberg finished third last season. But the club had to replace Ilzer, who moved on to take the job at Austria Vienna with Gerhard Struber. To get the lowdown on Wolfsberger AC, the Futbolgrad Network chatted with Austrian football expert Tom Middler from the Other Bundesliga Podcast this week.
“For this small side from Carinthia, it has been a relatively seamless transition to life under new coach Gerhard Struber – another young manager schooled in the Red Bull football factory, at the RB Salzburg youth teams, and FC Liefering, essentially Salzburg’s junior club,” Middler said to the Futbolgrad Network.
There is no doubt that Borussia Mönchengladbach will be the favourites for Thursday’s game. But Middler is right, Wolfsberg have nothing to lose, and the football history books are filled with teams from the Other Bundesliga causing an upset against German Bundesliga opposition.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Wolfsberg – Players to look out for:
Breel Embolo #36 – Borussia Mönchengladbach
After three injury-filled years at Schalke, Breel Embolo has been transformed at Gladbach. The Swiss striker started the season with two goals in four games and at times has been fantastic. Always quick, Rose has recently played Embolo in a deeper role which allows the 22-year-old more freedom to create with confidence. Embolo’s move is almost a second lease on life for a forward, who three years ago was headhunted by half of Europe. Somewhat surprising Schalke managed to sign the striker, but an early injury and several coaching changes meant that Embolo never managed to get off the ground. Now at Gladbach Embolo is once again showing why he was a hot commodity three seasons ago.
Shon Weissman #9 – Wolfsberg
“Liefering loanee Anderson Niangbo has made an impact up front this season, proving deadly in an around the box,” Middler said to the Futbolgrad Network. “Niangbo has partnered ably by perhaps one of Europe’s best free transfers of the summer, in Shon Weissman. The Israeli striker has had an explosive impact, registering eight goals already for Wolfsberger, as they’ve won five of their opening seven league games,” Middler said. Signed on a free transfer this summer the 23-year-old Israeli forward has been a nightmare for defensive lines in Austria.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Wolfsberg – Match Stats
- Wolfsberg have never before qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Europa League
- Mönchengladbach’s record against Austrian opposition is W6 D1 L3, all ten matches having taken place during the 1970s. Their overall home record versus Austrian clubs is W4 D1.
- Wolfsberg’s two previous European ties include one against Borussia Dortmund, who knocked them out of the UEFA Europa League third qualifying round in 2015/16, a 0-1 defeat in Austria preceding a 0-5 reverse in Germany.
- The German club are without a win in five European home games (D3 L2), although their home record in the UEFA Europa League group stage is W4 D1 L1, with 15 goals scored and five conceded.
- Promoted to the Austrian top flight for the first time in 2012, Wolfsberg claimed their highest-ever Bundesliga finish in 2018/19, taking third place behind champions Salzburg and runners-up LASK.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Wolfsberg – 3-0
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Wolfsberg – Lineups
Sommer – Bensebaini, Elvedi, Ginter, Lainer – Neuhaus, Kramer, Zakaria – Embolo – Thuram, Plea
Head Coach: Marco Rose
Kofler – Schmitz, Rnic, Sollbauer, Novak – Leitgeb, Liendl – Wernitznig, Rizmaier, Schmid – Weissman
Head Coach: Gerhard Struber
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to Forbes.com and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently splits his time between Victoria, BC and Munich, Germany. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.