After a five-match winning run saw them climb to fourth place in the standings, Borussia M’Gladbach can already create a considerable advantage over their top 4 rivals by defeating Schalke on Saturday. The Miners continued with good performances in the league, but were eliminated from DFB Pokal in midweek, meaning they go into the game with mixed feelings.
Lucien Favre again working wonders
Lucien Favre is quite possibly one of the most underrated coaches in world football having led Borussia M’Gladbach from the brink of relegation to Champions League qualification in just one year. Last season was not that successful for die Fohlen as they achieved an eighth-placed finish in German Bundesliga, and weren’t too impressive at the start of the new campaign either. Nevertheless, the Swiss coach then again started working his magic, stabilizing team’s away form to mastermind victories over Hamburg and Stuttgart, while extending the winning run at home to amazing seven matches. As a result, Borussia sit four points clear of their next opponents and their serious top 4 rivals, meaning they can make a big step towards another Champions League qualification by simply doing what they have done so far, i.e. winning their home games. The hosts will obviously be feeling confident following five victories on the bounce, meaning their scoring run looks likely to continue, but their back line could have their work cut out for them against the likes of Boateng, Farfan, Draxler and Szalai.
With Alvaro Dominguez the only unavailable player at the moment, Lucien Favre is unlikely to make any changes to his starting line-up.
Important game for Schalke
Over the last few years, Schalke have established themselves as genuine top 4 side, although the gap behind Bundesliga’s top 3 sides still remains great. The Miners have done some excellent piece of business this summer, signing Kevin-Prince Boateng, Adam Szalai, Dennis Aogo, Felipe Santana and Leon Goretzka, but injury to star striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar seriously disrupted their momentum. Dennis Aogo has now suffered a season-ending injury, but the Miners do seem to have big enough squad to cope. Despite not impressing in this year’s Champions League, the Miners have a match-point against Basel next Wednesday, but they first need to focus on the all-important league clash against die Fohlen. Schalke have raised their form in Bundesliga of late, but then lost the DFB Pokal match to Hoffenheim in midweek, with boss Jans Keller surprisingly fielding his strongest line-up in that game. The Miners will obviously have to show some improvement if they are to stop one of the best home sides in the league, but they do have more than enough attacking potential to hurt their next opponents.
Timo Hildebrand, Dennis Aogo, Kyriakos Papadopoulos, Anthony Annan, Leon Goretzka, Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Marco Hoger are all out injured.
Borussia will not have an easy job in their attempt to extend the brilliant run of results, but having done so well up to date, die Fohlen do look like favourites to win this one. And while Schalke’s back line is far from impressive, their attack appears to be in full working order, meaning we could easily see goals galore in Moenchengladbach.
Top pick: Over 2.5 goals 1.67 (2/3) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score 1.55 (5/9) @ Ladbrokes
Alternative pick 2: Half-time draw 2.38 (11/8) @ Stan James