THIS ARTICLE FIRST APPEARED IN FUSSBALLSTADT.COM ON AUGUST 18TH 2017
As Matchday 1 fixtures go, the Sunday evening fixture which sees Borussia Mönchengladbach take on FC Köln at Borussia Park is up there as one of the most appealing. Despite not being particularly local to one another (the two cities are about 30 miles apart), these two clubs share a rivalry which goes back to the 1960s when Cologne-based manager Hennes Weisweiler took Gladbach from the second division into the Bundesliga itself. Köln, who had enjoyed a period of relative success, winning the inaugural Bundesliga season in 1964, did not like the fact that one of their own had brought a team of upstarts into the top division of German football and they liked it even less when Borussia Mönchengladbach began to dominate the division. As a result, one of the most hotly contested Rheinischen Derbys was born.
The first leg of this season’s clash, played in Mönchengladbach at the famous Borussia Park, offers an intriguing match-up: two teams who took completely opposite trajectories in the previous season. Where Gladbach plummeted after having managed to finish in the Champions League spots the year before, Köln found themselves comfortably in the qualifying places for the Europa League.
That said, Gladbach fans will be hoping that any discrepancies that did exist between the two clubs last season will have been minimised after what has been a busy transfer window for them. With Andreas Christensen coming to the end of his loan spell, fans of Die Fohlen will be happy to see Matthias Ginter brought in from Borussia Dortmund as his replacement. Beyond this, the sale of Mahmoud Dahoud prompted a double transfer for Gladbach in the midfield area: Swiss international Denis Zakaria from Young Boys in Switzerland, and Vincenzo Grifo from SC Freiburg. And having had a worrying lack of out-and-out striking options going into the final week before the Bundesliga kicked off, the arrival of Raúl Bobadilla at the club in the last couple of days will really have settled some nerves.
For Köln, the summer period was a little more fraught: the will-he-won’t-he of the Anthony Modeste transfer saga was protracted and could have set the club back a long way. However, with the Modeste business now sorted out (along with the healthy influx of capital that it entailed), the club will be happy with the way the break has worked out for them. Jhon Cordoba, brought in as a like-for-like replacement for Modeste from Mainz 05, is the most notable arrival and, given his ‘more modest than Modeste’ fee of €17 million, the fans of the club should be generally satisfied with the purchase. Of course, Modeste’s not insignificant 25 goal haul last season are unlikely to be reproduced by Cordoba, but Köln will still be looking for at least double-figure goals from the Colombian.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Köln – Players to look out for:
Denis Zakaria #8 – Borussia Mönchengladbach
With Tobias Strobl well and truly injured after sustaining an ACL and meniscus damage in pre-season, Denis Zakaria has gone straight from Mahmoud Dahoud back up replacement to integral member of the squad. The eyes of the Gladbach fans will be firmly on the twenty-year-old on Sunday to see how he does with everyone hoping that he can reproduce the sort of form he showed in pre-season. Despite being brought in to replace Dahoud, Zakaria is a very different sort of player, and there are many people suggesting that he could go on to great things for Gladbach.
Jhon Cordoba #15 – 1. FC Köln
The question on everybody’s lips when it comes to Jhon Cordoba is: how will he respond to the pressure of equalling his predecessor, Anthony Modeste. Whatever else he has been through the course of his career, he hasn’t been prolific at any point and so it remains to be seen how he will go down amongst the fans who will still very much remember Modeste’s 25-goal-season. They will, no doubt, reassure themselves of the fact that Modeste essentially reinvented himself during his spell at FC Köln and will be hoping that Cordoba can do the same in his spell at the club.
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Köln – Match Stats
- Gladbach coach, Dieter Hecking, has never lost in a competitive match against Köln’s Peter Stöger. Of the 6 matches they have played, Hecking has won 4 and drawn 2.
- In their history in the Bundesliga, Gladbach clearly have the edge over Köln, winning 47 times to Köln’s 23 in the 86 matches they have played.
- Gladbach are also twice as likely to beat their Rheinische neighbours at home as lose.
- In their last 10 match-ups, Köln have only won twice. However, one of those occasions was last season at Borussia Park.
Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach vs Köln 2-1
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs 1. FC Köln – Possible Lineups
Sommer – Elvedi, Ginter, Vestergaard, Wendt – Kramer, Zakaria – Traoré, Hazard – Raffael, Stindl
Coach: Dieter Hecking
Horn – Klünter, Sörensen, Heintz, Rausch – Lehmann, Hector – Risse, Bittencourt – Jojic – Cordoba
Coach: Peter Stöger