Borussia Monchengladbach v Manchester City
Thursday November 24, 6:45am AEDT
After taking charge of Borussia Monchengladbach just five league games into last season, Andre Schubert has largely been successful, so much so that he was given a new contract just a few weeks ago. However, he now faces his biggest crisis since replacing Lucien Favre.
The Foals haven’t won for six Bundesliga games, and they lost a Rhineland derby 2-1 at home to FC Koln on Saturday. Even though Gladbach were the better side for large parts of the game, and led 1-0, they contrived to lose the match thanks to a dramatic late free-kick from Cologne-born Marcel Risse. Even more damaging was the failure to hang onto a lead against Celtic in their last Champions League game, as that 1-1 draw has made it incredibly difficult to reach the knockout phase.
Sporting director Max Eberl says the club will stick by Schubert, and in truth there have been mitigating circumstances. Injuries to Brazilian forward Raffael and former Chelsea playmaker Thorgan Hazard robbed the team of creativity in attack, and the loss of midfield general Granit Xhaka to Arsenal has proven to be a difficult blow to recover from.
Raffael and Hazard are now back in action, with Lars Stindl ready to support them in a dangerous front three. On-loan defender Andreas Christensen is back from injury, and should have regained a bit of sharpness after playing in the derby on Saturday.
Schubert’s record against Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was strong last season, as his Gladbach side took four points off Guardiola’s Bayern Munich. However, the Foals were hammered 4-0 at the Etihad earlier this season.
Guardiola’s debut season in England has been a rollercoaster ride so far. A flawless start saw Manchester City win their first 10 games in all competitions, and the plaudits for Guardiola’s style of football and his coaching excellence came flooding in.
A run of six matches without a win followed, including a humbling 4-0 dismemberment at Guardiola’s beloved Barcelona, and suddenly the Catalan was being showered with brickbats instead of bouquets. He was too wedded to his style, they said. Too intransigent, they said. To Guardiola’s credit, he pointed out that his style had won him 21 trophies, and he had no intention of ditching it.
That continuity of approach has seen results improve again, including a hugely important 3-1 win over Barcelona that may well have removed a few psychological barriers for some of City’s players. The Yaya Toure-inspired 2-1 win at Crystal Palace extended City’s unbeaten run to four games, although the Ivorian will miss this game because he wasn’t registered for the competition.
Although City won 2-1 at Gladbach just over a year ago, and smashed them on Matchday One, they look a bit short to me at 1.80. Gladbach have their injured players back, and even though their results have been poor of late, they are still a formidable proposition at Borussia Park when the crowd gets behind them.
Gladbach pushed Barcelona really hard before losing 2-1, they should have beaten Celtic, and overall they have only lost five of their last 30 home games in all competitions. It’s also worth considering that City know a draw effectively takes them through to the last 16, so if it’s level late on, they may not push for the win.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
There have been 18 goals in City’s four Champions League group games so far, and 14 out of their 20 games under Guardiola have featured three goals or more, so I can see why overs is trading at a skinny 1.62.
If you want an argument to go for unders at 2.50, consider that City have drawn a blank in three of their last five away games, and that Gladbach have only scored one goal in their last six Bundesliga matches.
Lars Stindl scored home and away against Celtic, and he also found the net against City the last time they came to Borussia Park. He also netted Gladbach’s goal against Koln on Saturday. At 3.55, he looks a decent bet to score in 90 minutes, especially given the fact that City have kept just one clean sheet in their last 12 games.
Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture, and grabbed a late winner the last time City visited Borussia Park. He’s the 1.79 favourite in this market.
LAY – Manchester City at 1.80
BACK – Lars Stindl to score at 3.55