Gladbach looking to return to the "Borussia way"
The moods in the respective camps were diametrically opposed after the Matchday 34 meeting between the two teams last term. While Borussia Mönchengladbach claimed a 5-1 victory over TSG Hoffenheim to end what had been an unsatisfactory season by their own standards on a high note, the Kraichgau club's defeat extended their winless run to nine matches. TSG ultimately finished the campaign in ninth place, one place ahead of Borussia. The two teams will now lock horns on the opening day – an immediate opportunity for TSG to make amends at Borussia Park.
That match against TSG was Adi Hütter's last in charge of the Foals, with his departure as head coach announced immediately after the final whistle. He has been replaced by Daniel Farke. After spells in charge of Lippstadt and the Borussia Dortmund reserves, he enjoyed a successful spell in England with Norwich City, achieving Premier League promotion in 2019 and 2021 but failing to establish the club in the top tier. His spell in charge of Russians Krasnodar ended before he had even overseen a match due to the invasion of Ukraine. The match against Hoffenheim will be his first as a head coach in the Bundesliga.
Farke only had positive words to say about TSG and their new head coach André Breitenreiter at the pre-match press conference. "For me, Hoffenheim are synonymous with a certain philosophy of play. We're not only going up against a very good team, but also an outstanding coach who has a clear identity. We will need to be highly motivated, disciplined and well prepared tactically against this opponent and must do the basics really well too."
There has not been much of a transfer market overhaul at Borussia so far. Matthias Ginter and Breel Embolo, two regular starters from last season, bade farewell to the club; 25-year-old Ko Itakura arrived from Manchester City having spent last season on loan at FC Schalke 04, while Danish youngster Oscar Fraulo also signed on the dotted line. In other words, tried and tested players brought in with the aim of getting Borussia back on track.
However, captain Lars Stindl will not be on the pitch when Saturday's game kicks off at 15:30 CET. The midfielder sustained a thigh injury in the opening round of the DFB-Pokal against SV Overachern (9-1) and will miss the game against TSG. "Given his effectiveness, creativity and experience, it is not possible to replace him like-for-like," said Farke reflecting on the injury. Goalie Yann Sommer, who had to sit out that cup tie, is expected to return. The recently injured quartet of Jordan Beyer, Manu Koné, Hannes Wolf and Tobias Sippel could also be contenders for Borussia. There are however doubts hanging over the involvement of Marvin Friedrich and Luca Netz.
Borussia will be aiming to get back to where they had established themselves over a decade through good work. It is by no means guaranteed – the people in charge of the Lower Rhine outfit are aware of that. "We have not opted for a new path, but for the one that has always set Borussia apart. Nonetheless, it may be a bumpy road," commented sporting director Roland Virkus, who succeeded Max Eberl in the winter. TSG will do their utmost to make it tough for Borussia as they look to take the first step on that familiar path.