When Borussia Monchengladbach were drawn with Manchester City in the last-16 of the Champions League, the Bundesliga side probably fancied their chances of causing an upset.
After all, the draw on December 14 came just a couple of days after Pep Guardiola‘s men had played out a lifeless stalemate with rivals United, and a little over 24 hours before they were held at home by rock-bottom West Brom.
Fast forward a little over two months, however, and that 1-1 draw with the Baggies remains the last time Kevin De Bruyne and Co failed to win.
Borussia Monchengladbach will try to stop Manchester City’s run in the Champions League
Eighteen straight victories in all competitions has seen City fly clear at the top of the Premier League, cruise into the FA Cup quarter-finals and reach the Carabao Cup final against Tottenham.
The prospect of knocking out City – and ending that incredible run – now appears a much more daunting task for Monchengladbach, who go into Wednesday night’s game looking to kick-start their season following a poor run.
So, do the Germans stand any chance of stopping City making it 19 wins in a row in the first leg in Budapest? Sportsmail takes a closer look at the Foals.
Pep Guardiola and his players will attempt to win their 19th straight game on Wednesday night
WHAT’S THEIR FORM LIKE?
Not good. Marco Rose’s men go into Wednesday night on the back of four games without a win, having last tasted victory against Borussia Dortmund on January 22.
After smashing four past Dortmund that day, the goals have dried up and they’ve scored just three in their last four games, losing at home to struggling Cologne and Mainz, and drawing away at Union Berlin and Wolfsburg.
Monchengladbach’s current dip is hard to explain, given the rich vein of form they found themselves in at the start of the year.
Having started 2021 with an away victory at Arminia Bielefeld, Rose’s players then beat Bayern Munich 3-2, drew 2-2 at Stuttgart and triumphed 1-0 over Werder Bremen.
That thrilling win over the champions, which saw them fight back from 2-0 down, shows what they’re capable of. It’s not the first time they’ve gone toe-to-toe with the big guns this season, either.
Lars Stindl looks dejected during Monchengladbach’s miserable defeat by Mainz on Saturday
HOW DID THEY DO IN THE GROUP STAGE?
Monchengladbach were drawn in Group B with Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk. Not quite a Group of Death, but not far off it.
They more than held their own, however, and were only denied a famous win at the San Siro on Matchday One when Romelu Lukaku equalised for Inter late on.
They were also on the brink of an historic victory over Real in their second game, having burst into a 2-0 lead at home, only to crumble in the final stages and concede in the 87th and 93rd minutes. The game finished 2-2.
Back-to-back thrashings of Shakhtar – 6-0 away and 4-0 at home – got their bid to reach the knockout stage back on track, and despite losing to Inter (3-2) and Real (2-0) in their final two games, they went through on goal difference.
In fact, the squad watched the final few minutes of Inter’s draw with Shakhtar on a tablet on the pitch after their defeat by Real – and then celebrated wildly once qualification was confirmed.
Monchengladbach’s stars celebrate progression despite losing their last game to Real Madrid
They were forced to huddle around a tablet to find out whether they’d reached the last-16
WHAT ABOUT THE MANAGER?
It’s not very often that a manager goes into a Champions League last-16 tie knowing that this could well be his last European tie with the club.
That’s exactly the situation Rose finds himself in, however, having confirmed that he will leave Monchengladbach to become Borussia Dortmund’s new boss this summer.
The 44-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise over the last four years, having first begun his coaching career with Mainz’s reserve side back in the 2010-11 season.
Rose was still a player then, albeit coming towards the end of his career, and he quickly decided that he wanted to pursue management.
After a year working in the German fifth tier, he moved to Austria in 2013 and began working with Red Bull Salzburg’s youth teams.
Having led the Under 18s to the UEFA Youth League in 2016-17 – beating the likes of Manchester City, PSG and Barcelona along the way – he was made manager of the senior team in 2017.
Marco Rose has been snapped up by Borussia Dortmund after impressing in the Bundesliga
Two seasons, two Austrian titles and a seriously impressive unbeaten home record followed, leading Monchengladbach to bring him back to his native Germany in 2019.
Rose got off to a flying start at Borussia-Park, leading his new club to the top of the table by December before eventually finishing fourth to seal a Champions League place.
It’s not been plain sailing this season, however, and a poor recent run has Monchengladbach down in eighth place, nine points behind Frankfurt and Wolfsburg in fourth and third respectively.
Indeed, Rose has admitted the angst caused by his pending move has played a large role in their recent form.
‘It has not been nothing, I admit that,’ Rose told Goal.
‘But I also believe that it has something to do with the fact that we have improved a lot in a year and a half here, and that many people feel that we’re actually not finished yet. I agree with this.’
Despite the mini-slump, Dortmund had seen more than enough in Rose’s style and results to convince them that he’s the man to take the club forward next season.
HOW DO THEY PLAY?
Although Rose likes to be flexible when it comes to formations, the 44-year-old tends to use a 4-2-3-1 formation with two midfielders sitting behind a No 10, two wingers and a central striker.
Like many of the top Bundesliga sides, Monchengladbach press from the front, with players often targeting opponents rather than closing down space.
They rely on being quick in the transition and using the pace of players like Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea to get them up the pitch quickly.
With central midfielders adept at winning the ball back, Monchengladbach can be dangerous on the counter attack if City commit too many players forward.
Monchengladbach have become one of the Bundesliga’s most attractive sides under Rose
Speaking about his philosophy on the game last year, Rose said: ‘I don’t think we’ll change anything about how we want to go out onto the pitch and how we want to play football, because I’m glad to hear that it looks good and is fun to watch.
‘To an extent that is our task, and our goal too. Football in front of 50,000 to 80,000 is entertainment as well, so if the people are having fun, we’re doing a lot of things right.
‘Of course, in professional football results are part of it too and are very important.’
The fans might be missing this season, but Rose’s way of playing remains the same.
WHO ARE THEIR DANGER MEN?
City will need to be wary of a few players in Monchengladbach’s ranks, but perhaps none will pose a bigger threat than Thuram.
The pacey winger, who is the son of France legend and World Cup winner Lilian, scored twice in the 2-2 draw with Real Madrid in the group stage.
Also capable of playing up front, Thuram has struggled to find the back of the net of late, but will keen to prove himself on the biggest stage.
Further back, central defener Nico Elvedi has been linked with a move to City before and is enjoying a fine season.
Marcus Thuram (left), son of France legend Lilian, will be out to impress against City this week
The Swiss star has the best pass completion rate of any player in the Bundesliga this term (93.7 per cent) and has won the second most aerial duels (82).
Elvedi will be sat in front of goalkeeper Yann Sommer, who has established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s best.
He conceded the third fewest goals of any No 1 in Germany last season and has an excellent penalty-saving record, having kept out two from Sergio Ramos during a Nations League game earlier this season.
He’ll fancy his chances should City get given a spot-kick, given their recent troubles.
COULD WE SEE ANY OF THEIR PLAYERS IN THE PREMIER LEAGUE?
Florian Neuhaus (right) has refused to rule out a summer exit from Monchengladbach
There’s a very good chance if recent reports are to be believed.
City are said to be keeping tabs on Florian Neuhaus, a talented midfielder who has stood out with his vision, technique and ability to control possession.
The 23-year-old is now a Germany international and is said to have attracted interest from a host of European giants including Liverpool, Bayern Munich and Juventus.
Neuhaus, who has a release clause of £35million, insists he is focused on achieving his goals with Monchengladbach, but refused to rule out a summer move when questioned earlier this week.
Another midfielder who could be on the move to England is Jonas Hofmann, the late-bloomer who earned his first cap for Germany at the age of 28 last October.
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel is said to be keen on the versatile star, who is capable of playing in centrally, out wide and as a No 10.
Hofmann, who has drawn comparisons with his compatriot Marco Reus, is likely to be available for around £14m this summer.
Denis Zakaria, who may not be in the starting XI on Wednesday night, has previously been linked with Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool.
The tough-tackling midfielder is believed to have a release clause of £37m in his contract, although interest in him appears to have dropped this season.
Jonas Hofmann, pictured celebrating against Inter Milan, is reportedly a target for Chelsea
ANY HISTORY BETWEEN THE TEAMS?
Yes, they’ve played six times in total, having first met twice in the UEFA Cup way back in 1979.
City drew the first leg of their quarter-final tie 1-1 but lost the return 3-1, with Monchengladbach going on to lift the trophy after beating Red Star Belgrade.
More recently, the two sides met in the group stages of the Champions League during the 2015-16 season, with City winning 2-1 away and 4-2 at home.
They were also drawn in the same group the following season. The Germans were thrashed 4-0 at the Etihad, but earned a respectable 1-1 draw on home soil.