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Patrick Herrmann is Borussia Monchengladbach’s hope after Marco Reus & Bayern Munich may need a new defender – What we learned from Friday’s Bundesliga restart

Patrick Herrmann is Borussia Monchengladbach’s hope after Marco Reus & Bayern Munich may need a new defender – What we learned from Friday’s Bundesliga restart

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Goal.com reflects upon the Rhine side's win, picking and analysing the key points: in this case, the 20-year-old stole the show, as die Roten were found needing a new centre-back

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By Clark Whitney | German Football Editor

It started off with a mistake, but at full time there was no denying: on Friday, Borussia Monchengladbach played Bayern Munich off the park en route to a 3-1 victory. The result ensured that the Bavarians’ run without a win at the Borussia-Park will extend past six years, and propelled the hosts to an improbable second-place standing in the Bundesliga table.

As in August’s 1-0 win in Munich, Lucien Favre’s side benefited from a defensive mistake as they went ahead. This time there was no miscommunication: only Manuel Neuer could foot the blame for passing the ball directly to Marco Reus, who, to the benefit of two Borussias (his current Gladbach and future Dortmund) fired the opener into an empty net.

GLADBACH'S ATTACKING TRIO
 PLAYER RATING | PATRICK HERRMANN

8.5

Man of the match. Always a threat on the counterattack, the youngster finally broke through on 41 minutes and scored a morale-killing second goal. Made it 3-0 late with a goal that looked simple, but showcased his intelligence in making all the right runs against a defence that was ill-prepared. Reus will be gone next season, but Gladbach have a good replacement growing into his boots.
 PLAYER RATING | MARCO REUS

8.0

In the right place at the right time to score the simplest of openers into an unguarded net, but was relatively quiet for long spells. Showed a touch of absolutely immense class, though, as he played a wondrous through-ball to assist Herrmann's strike to make it 3-0.
 PLAYER RATING | MIKE HANKE

7.5


Useful as an outlet to one-touch pass out to the wings, but had a moment of pure class as his immaculate through ball assisted Herrmann's goal. His movement caused trouble for Bayern: like Miroslav Klose, he proves that scoring ability is just one of several attributes a striker can find useful.
The opener came as a great surprise but, throughout the match, Gladbach remained the better team. Their ball-control in the centre of the park was not even remotely special, but they kept two very close bands of four players deep to smother the Bayern attack. Roel Brouwers was magnificent in deputising for suspended centre-back Dante, while Roman Neustadter and Havard Nordtveit served the sole purpose of clogging passing channels around the edge of the penalty box.

As gritty and unrefined as the rest of the team was, however, the hosts’ attack was something of artistic beauty. The only true front man in the team was Mike Hanke, who was hardly a threat on goal. He did play a critical role, though, as an outlet man who immediately touched the ball on for his overlapping team-mates, Reus and Patrick Herrmann. And it was the young duo who Bayern simply could not contain.
 
As a Germany international and arguably the player of the first round, Reus needs no introduction. His summer departure for Dortmund will be a real blow for Gladbach to absorb. But in this game it was arguably Herrmann who stole the show. The 20-year-old is a different type of player from his team’s star man: he is less flashy and gives the impression of a less direct player.

Looks can be deceiving, however: though typically found on the right wing, he made runs to the centre that fooled even a seasoned veteran, Philipp Lahm, leading to both of his goals. Herrmann, who scored his first-ever Bundesliga goal against Bayern 14 months ago, is a winger with the brain of a striker. He has a lethal finishing touch and, critically, knows just where and when to make his runs.

It is, of course, important to note that Herrmann could not do it all on his own. Hanke provided a glorious pass to assist his first goal, and Reus’ delivery for the second was a reminder that even in the modern game, with ultra-light footballs, the perfectly-weighted through-pass is not dead.

For Bayern, on the other hand, there could hardly have been a worse way to start the second round. But the result alone is no cause for alarm: the Bundesliga leaders have shown their class against top opposition this season, and by now it is quite clear that they can achieve their goals without any serious personnel changes. But to do so, a significant upswing in performance is necessary.

Unavailable... Unproven... Cup-tied...


The real hammer-blow came well after Herrmann made it 3-0, and that was when Daniel van Buyten limped off with a suspected metatarsal fracture. If it is indeed confirmed that the Belgian has sustained a broken bone in his foot - in which case he will surely miss almost the entire second round - Bayern will be faced with a serious dilemma.

COME SO FAVRE

2011-12 THUS FAR
GAMES PLAYED
WINS
DRAWS
LOSSES
WIN PERCENTAGE
18
11
3
4
61.1%
  AT THIS POINT LAST YEAR
GAMES PLAYED
WINS
DRAWS
LOSSES
WIN PERCENTAGE
18
3
4
11
16.7%
SINCE FAVRE'S ARRIVAL, FEB. 14, 2011
GAMES PLAYED
WINS
DRAWS
LOSSES
WIN PERCENTAGE
30
17
5
8
56.7%
Originally, Uli Hoeness’ plan was to spend big on a high-profile centre-back in the summer, most likely Schalke’s Benedikt Howedes. But with Breno continually distracted by Twitter and tattoo adventures and Jupp Heynckes reluctant to drop a natural midfielder into defence, the chairman may be forced to make a signing before the end of January.

At the moment, there just are no proven defenders who are both available and eligible to play in the Champions League. There is no chance that Schalke will let their captain leave before the summer, and the likes of Alex (Chelsea) and Jan Vertonghen (Ajax) are both cup-tied. Gladbach’s Dante is a potential option, but the player has no experience at the highest level and it would be illogical for his club to risk failure to secure a spot in the Champions League just to bring in a modest transfer fee. Jerome Boateng could move into a central position, but doing so would leave the team with very little back-up, and would make Rafinha a full-time starter on the right of defence, another solution that Heynckes would be less than keen to accept.

Bayern have a serious decision on the horizon, especially given that the Champions League final will be hosted in their own Allianz Arena. It would be silly to put aside their ambitions to play in that match just in order to save a few million Euros. But with the market as it stands, there may be no other choice.

Gladbach, on the other hand, haven't a care in the world. When Lucien Favre took over last February, they had taken only 16 points from 22 games. Since then, the Rhine side have lost just eight games, only one more than Bayern.

Even now in second place, the Foals' targets remain modest: in a recent interview with Goal.com, Dante claimed that the goal on Gladbach's minds is the 40-point mark. If things continue to go their way, Borussia will reach and potentially surpass that barrier in two weeks.

Even in January, at the Borussia-Park, it's low expectations, low stress from here onward. In Munich, the presure builds.

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