Tag Archives: Borussia Mönchengladbach

Bundesliga Review – Faces old and new shine on opening weekend – by Archie Rhind-Tutt

The Bundesliga has steadily built a reputation of being an entertaining and competitive division. The competitive part has waned a touch over the last few years, but at the start of its 50th season, Germany’s premier division proved it is both entertaining and competitive. After all, only two games were won by more than a goal this weekend. The league has also garnered a reputation of uncovering new talent but on the first weekend, credit had to go to both last seasons’ top performers and to the division’s necomers.

Take Fortuna Düsseldorf’s Dani Schahin for instance. He was one of an incredible 20 new signings for Fortuna who are back in the Bundesliga for the first time in 15 years. What’s more, he was unsure if he’d even be in the squad for the first game. Schahin ended up scoring both goals in a 2-0 away at last year’s surprise package Augsburg. Such was his performance it even led to an unlikely invite that evening to “Aktuelle Sport Studio,” one of Germany’s most prestigious sports shows. Elsewhere, there was also a debut goal for Wolfsburg’s new striker Bas Dost who struck an 89th minute winner. It came just two minutes after Stuttgart’s Vedad Ibisevic had won a penalty, had it saved and missed the rebound from just a few yards – a strangely impressive achievement.

Yet, it was hard to ignore the efforts of some of last season’s stars. Marco Reus is an obvious starting point, what with Borussia Dortmund playing the first game and with the high profile nature of his move from Borussia Mӧnchengladbach. It took the German Player of the Year just 11 minutes against Werder Bremen to get his first goal for Dortmund. BVB weren’t at their best though and Theodor Gebre-Selassie’s goal (another new signing doing well) threatened to spoil the Champions opening game. Mario Gӧtze’s late winner though ensured Borussia started with a win meaning its 29 league games unbeaten now for the Champions.

It was victory for the Bundesliga’s other Borussia too with Gladbach securing a 2-1 home win. They beat Hoffenheim, the only side to defeat them at the Borussia Park last year. This was mainly down to one of their heroes from last season, Juan Arango. The Venezuelan set up Gladbach’s opener by curling in a free-kick to Mike Hanke to nod home. He then scored their winner – a free-kick on the edge of the box, which he dispatched into the corner. This led to Arango proclaiming after the game “I shoot sharper than Ronaldo,” a statement he might struggle to back up this season, even if his left foot is somewhat mercurial. Still, Arango certainly helped to lift spirits in Gladbach ahead of their daunting trip to Kiev on Wednesday, where they’ll have to score at least three if they want to qualify for the Champions League.

Bayern Munich and Schalke have no such problems on that front – both have qualified direct to the Champions League group stages. They were the two sides that finished just ahead of Gladbach last season and some of the usual suspects were on form again over the weekend. Even though he is a new signing, Mario Mandzukic comes into this bracket for Bayern, as he’s effectively proven himself in the Bundesliga. The ex-Wolfsburg striker scored his first in the Bavarians 3-0 win at newly promoted Greuther Fürth with Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben grabbing the others.

Schalke meanwhile were the only one of last season’s top four not to win on the opening weekend as they were held in Lower Saxony by Hannover. That didn’t stop last season’s Bundesliga top scorer, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, from opening his account for this campaign. He scored the equaliser after Hannover’s centre back Felipe (yet another new signing) netted the opener just before half time. Lewis Holtby put the away side in front before another one of Hannover’s new signings Adrian Nikci came off the bench and rescued a point for Mirko Slomka’s side.

So as far as opening weekends go, this was a good one, not just for players old and new, but also for their teams. Three of the top four won whilst two of the three promoted sides gained impressive victories – the standout being Eintracht Frankfurt’s win over Bayer Leverkusen. For now though, you can’t make too much of these results as it is so early on in the campaign. Nevertheless, when it comes to reaching 50, the Bundesliga certainly did so in the exciting manner it has become renowned for.

Matchday One Results:

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Werder Bremen

Augsburg 0-2 Fortuna Düsseldorf

Freiburg 1-1 Mainz

Fürth 0-3 Bayern Munich

Gladbach 2-1 Hoffenheim

Hamburg 0-1 Nuremberg

Eintracht Frankfurt 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Stuttgart 0-1 Wolfsburg

Hannover 2-2 Schalke

Table

Rank Club Matches W* D* L* G* GD* Pts.*
1 FC Bayern Munich 1 1 0 0 3:0 +3 3 CL*
2 Fortuna Düsseldorf 1 1 0 0 2:0 +2 3 CL*
3 Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0 2:1 +1 3 CL*
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1 1 0 0 2:1 +1 3
Eintracht Frankfurt 1 1 0 0 2:1 +1 3
6 1. FC Nuremberg 1 1 0 0 1:0 +1 3 EL* Qual.
VfL Wolfsburg 1 1 0 0 1:0 +1 3
8 FC Schalke 04 1 0 1 0 2:2 0 1
Hannover 96 1 0 1 0 2:2 0 1
10 1. FSV Mainz 05 1 0 1 0 1:1 0 1
SC Freiburg 1 0 1 0 1:1 0 1
12 1899 Hoffenheim 1 0 0 1 1:2 -1 0
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 1 0 0 1 1:2 -1 0
SV Werder Bremen 1 0 0 1 1:2 -1 0
15 Hamburger SV 1 0 0 1 0:1 -1 0
VfB Stuttgart 1 0 0 1 0:1 -1 0
17 FC Augsburg 1 0 0 1 0:2 -2 0 Relegation
18 Greuther Fürth 1 0 0 1 0:3 -3 0 Relegation

Table from Official Bundesliga Website

Article originally published on Football Fan Cast

Poker Face: Heynckes v The Pretenders

A Wave Goodbye?

Despite an amazing run of recent form, Bayern have suffered some key losses this season. Kyle Barber, investigates.

So far this season, Jupp Heynckes has fallen foul of six domestic defeats. That tally represents just one fewer than last season’s total, and could scarcely have looked further away during their eponymous run of 1,147 minutes without conceding so much as a goal, let alone three points. The opening round 1-0 reversal to ‘Gladbach was quickly cast as a mere speed bump on the inevitable road back to Bundesliga triumph. After all, the long-sought Manuel Neuer had joined, Robben and Ribéry posed the most vibrant wide threat inEurope, and the much-vaunted Jupp Heynckes had returned to revise the shadows that still clouded the end of his previous tenure, in 1991.

However, in retrospect that 1. Spieltag defeat offered portent for similar results yet to come. Thus far in 2011-12, Bayern have registered 16 wins, garnering 51 points, and finding the net on 58 occasions (at a ratio of 2.32 goals per game). However, the Bavarians have regularly found periods of promising form punctuated by debilitating defeats. Over the six losses sustained, the Bavarians have leaked 12 goals, managing just four themselves. And perhaps more concerning, each of those occasions has seen them tactically outmanoeuvred, with creativity stifled, and Plan B conspicuous by its absence.

There is little dispute that, man-for-man, Bayern have the standout starting eleven and squad in the Bundesliga. Yet the common thread running through their league losses is that they have all been to sides bossed by coaches regarded as being both tactically and sequentially astute. Cast against the dogmatic – bordering on stubborn – commitment to personnel and formation nominally adopted by Heynckes has appeared tired and archaic. By restricting the time and space afforded to Bayern’s wide men – from the more robust man-to-man marking shown by Dortmund in their victory at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 13; to the attacking verve employed by Mainz that forced them back into unfamiliar areas of the field just one week later – coupled with a disciplined back four (reinforced by at least one holding central midfielder) in all instances, opponents have limited Bayern’s principal routes of attack to looking distinctly prosaic.

As a result, the energy and creativity of the likes of Schweinsteiger and Kroos is rendered redundant. The expectation then to perform, whether home or away and brought largely by the weight of history, lends itself to Bayern invariably over-committing. Set a natural 4-4-2, or more fluid 4-2-3-1, against that – mounted on pace through the front two or three and a pivotal figure in the central midfield berth (think Reus and Arango for ‘Gladbach, or Pinto and Rausch for Hannover) – and the exposure to a vibrant counter-attack has proved stark.

There were further signs of the Bavarian’s potential for a readily-blunted attack last season. With eight draws, only four teams recorded more – they had already displayed a propensity for being stopped. The subsequent decision to reinforce their backline rather than enhance their attacking options was understandable (they shipped 40 goals during their league campaign – 18 more thanDortmund), but missed a real source of limitation that has since come to the fore. Heynckes apparent reticence to adapting his approach in respect of the opposition merely serves to add to the evident frustrations both on and off the pitch, casting an exasperation in him that then accentuates the pressure on his players, increasing the tension which further hinders the talents at his disposal.

Four of a Kind?

Aces in the Pack

Thomas Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel is some 28 years the junior of Jupp Heynckes. Yet the Mainz Head Coach is swiftly establishing a burgeoning reputation for tactical acumen, coupled with a style of football that epitomises the definition of being greater than the sum of its constituent parts. Having taken charge of first team affairs ahead of the 2009-10 season, Tuchel imbedded a dogmatic work ethic amongst his squad, with no little skill and an eye for youth development. His second campaign saw him quickly face down any remaining sceptics by leading Mainz to a sequence of seven straight wins.

Tuchel is widely touted as the ultimate successor to Heynckes, principally for reasons mused by the venerable Rafael Hönigstein: “Mainz are created in their manager’s image – young, eager players happy to learn new things. And teach rivals a few too”!

Mirko Slomka

Mirko Slomka parallels Tuchel in a notable number of ways, not least amongst which is his adoption of the counter-attack as his weapon of choice. His tenure at Hannover has been prefaced by a need to use the tools at his disposal. Yet, with a limited transfer fund, he has turned a 17th placed side into one still creating waves in second-tier European competition, and all in a little over two years. The perfect balance of a resolute back four – one noted for its parsimonious nature – and a fluid attacking verve, spearheaded by Mohammed Abdellaoue and Didier Ya Konan, has become an identifying factor of the team. As has the implementation of Slomka’s defining ‘ten second rule’ – whereby the team must work hard for ten seconds to directly regain possession after losing is, before reverting to two banks of four. Such was epitomised in their Matchday 10 win, where they covered some 6km more than Bayern, and were restricted to just 37% of the ball.

Lucien Favre

Having taken charge of ‘Gladbach on Valentine’s Day last year, it would be no exaggeration to say the love affair between Club and Head Coach is still very much in its veritable honeymoon phase. Still justifiably able to be considered part of the title race, the pairing have also held something of an Indian sign over Bayern during their time together. As the only side to take maximum points from the Bavarians this year (so far), the feel good factor engendered in his squad by the Swiss tactician has been at its most evident through the countering style built around the machinations and undoubted talents of Marco Reus. There is a growing degree of upper-hierarchical support for Favre at Bayern, with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge having touted the 54-year old this time last year.

Robin Dutt

At the end of last season, Robin Dutt was the immediate choice to follow Heynckes into the principal role at the helm in Leverkusen. Cast forth nine months, and there is a growing groundswell of opinion that sees him as doing the same once more at Bayern. The attentive and aggressive way he set his side up to directly match Bayern recently in their 2-0 win will have done much to impress both Munich fans and higher echelons. In that game, Leverkusen matched Bayern on shots and territory – albeit with a more direct style – and showed a good deal more endeavour (covering some 7km more over the course of the 90 minutes). The direct 4-2-3-1 like-for-like formation may also have suggested he has the formative ability to use the tools that would be immediately at his disposal. And the shark-like manner in which he sought to capitalise on Bayern’s humiliation in their away tie to Basel will also have appealed, as will his more amiable relationship with – and handling of – Michael Ballack. One element that may count against him, though, could be the rather more lacklustre surrender yielded in the 3-0 vohr-ründe loss in the reverse fixture on Matchday 7.

The Joker

Jürgen Klopp

Joker in the Pack

In amongst all the wider considerations as to who may be next in the Bayern hotseat is the proverbial ‘Joker’: the irrepressible Jürgen Klopp. To continue the metaphorical references; Klopp is the ‘elephant-in-the-room’ when it comes to who the Bayern top-brass would truly like to don the head trainer’s tracksuit. Moreover, he is also the predominant choice amongst the fans, and the likely retention of the Bundesliga title this term will do little to assuage that desire. In that vein, Klopp’s achievements and heraldry tells more than the bare facts: Dortmund’s success underlines Bayern’s relative failure. It also shows that they are no longer the overbearing domestic force; unable to simply buy-up the resources of their greater opposition, nor cherry-pick the best National talent – accentuated by Reus’s decision to head Northeast to them, rather than South to Munich.

The Here and Now

It’s not all negative for Heynckes and his players though by any means – they’re some nine points better off than at this stage last term; have scored more; conceded less; and sit just five points offDortmund, rather than the 19 of 2010-11. And when the likes of Gomez, Ribéry, Robben, Müller and Schweinsteiger are firing, Bayern invariable triumph. That was certainly underlined by their midweek annihilation of Basel, as well as the 13 league goals they’ve registered since the debilitation of losing to Leverkusen. Some of the problems which have manifested this term are also rooted in the changes in management over the last 12 months, and the disagreement fostered amid the Bayern hierarchy.

Indeed, there is some thought that Heynckes failure would please certain areas of that senior group, with his appointment seen by many as having been motivated by a polar reaction to the approach adopted by predecessor Louis van Gaal. The Dutchman had been cited as the archetypal tactician, but had a method that ruffled more than few feathers. In contrast, Heynckes offered a more grounded, tender approach that was intended to restore the feel good factor to both the dressing room and training ground. Yet even at that stage – and as reported by Bild this past week – the names of Slomka and Favre were also in the frame, but were debarred from further consideration due to their relative anonymity amongst the casual fan, and global standing (not to mention the political determinations of the Munich ‘upstairs’; with it being seen as Rummenigge’s turn to pick after Uli Hoeneß’s choice – Heynckes – failing to meet expectations). Hoisted by their own petard 12 months ago, Bayern could easily find themselves in the same predicament once more; especially should they land their ultimate goal this year, and lift the Champions’ League trophy in their very own back yard.

One year to bring the golden days back to ‘Gladbach

Borussia Mönchengladbach’s rise to the upper echelons of the German top flight has been so sudden that you want to soak up as much of it as possible lest they fall back to where they were just over a year ago at the bottom of the Bundesliga. But as their coach, Lucien Favre approaches his first anniversary in post, is this sudden success sustainable asks Terry Duffelen.

“Last season is like a bygone era.” said Borussia Mönchengladbach Sporting Director Max Eberl on DW Sport “We were bottom of the table and we took a lot of grief for that and so did the fans.” It would have been more than interesting to be a fly on the wail of Ebert’s office when Lucien Favre was offered the coach’s job at Borussia Park. Was the job sold to him or did the former Hertha coach do the selling? Did he tell his prospective boss that one year from now he’d be pushing for a Champions League qualification place? Unlikely.

Yet there they are, one year later, fourth place in the Bundesliga and in the Semi-Final of the German Cup. After a last ditch relegation play off in May and an attempt in the Summer from former player Stefan Effenberg to depose Eberl, both he and Favre have engineered an extraordinary turnaround for a club that may have had some bookies paying out on their relegation as early as the Winter Break, last season.

Since taking over, Favre’s team have conceded only 21 goals in the Bundesliga. Marco Reus has realised his potential and become the talk of the Bundesliga. Patrick Hermann has proved that ‘Gladbach does not have a one man attack and that perennial underacheiver Mike Hanke is a player transformed since his transfer from Hannover 96. At the back, Marc Andre Ter Stegen, the 19 year old who, according to his captain Filip Daems, has the “charisma of a 30 year old” is arguably the in form goalkeeper in the Bundesliga and has given renewed confidence to the regular back line of Filip Daems, Dante, Martin Stranzl and the excellent Tony Jantschke.

However, probably one of the more compelling of the ‘Gladbach narratives is whether their success can be sustained not just until the end of this season but for campaigns yet to come. Is this the beginning of another golden age at Mönchengaldbach?

A foundation stone for their building blocks has to be the coach, Lucien Favre. But this is more that just a question of whether he will stay or move on to another challenge but if he does remain, will he be properly resourced? Irrespective of where ‘Gladbach finish in May, the squad is set to lose both Reus to Borussia Dortmund and the influential midfielder, Roman Neustadter who’s contract expires at the end of the season and has agreed to join Schalke. While these players may not to be immediately replaceable, it will be necessary bring in players to succeed them.

When Favre took Hertha Berlin to fifth place in the Bundesliga in 2009, he lost a some influential players at the end of that season (most notably the imposing Ukraniain forward, Andriy Voronin) and was unable to replenish his squad. After a poor start to the following campaign, Favre was dismissed. This is a fact that will surely not be lost on him in the Summer as he thinks about the next season. To avoid history repeating itself, the ‘Gladbach’s squad needs to grow. Presumably a portion of the transfer fee of €17.5 for Reus will be available. That sort of money can go along way if spent wisely. However, if Favre can get his team into a Champions League spot and subsequently into the group stages then the possibility exists to not just fill the gaps in the squad but to move it forward to such an extent where a second consecutive top four finish may be a realistic ambition.

But there are of course so many variables involved in that particular equation. For one, while ‘Gladbach may be able to raise plenty of money from Champions League football, there is the club’s wage structure to consider. While the Borussia Park regularly sells out, the club is by far from the richest in the Bundesliga and will have a wage structure in line with their turnover. Being able to afford the transfer fee for top players is pointless if they are not in a position to meet their wage demands.This raises the further possibility that their remaining players become the subject of transfer bids. Even if they could offer the player’s Champions League football, would ‘Gladbach be in a poisition to fend off Bayern Munich if they came calling for Tony Jantschke or Patrick Hermann?

And then of course there is the small matter of actually finishing this season in the top four in the first place. Failure to achieve this will render all other permutations moot. In 2009 Favre’s Hertha looked in a strong position to finish in the top three and perhaps even win the title. Instead they finished fifth which although impressive, could have been so much more and indeed, Hertha were relegated the following season. If ‘Gladbach don’t make it to the big show, next season, could the same fate befall them?

The good news is that all will be revealed over the next few crucial months of this season and the early week’s of next season. The mission is straightforward: If Favre can keep his squad onside and be given sufficient funds to bring in replacement bodies while keeping hold of his top young players plus qualifying and securing a place in the Group stages of the Champions League then maybe this is the start of a new golden age for ‘Gladbach. That’s a lot of plates to keep spinning at the same time but there is a healthy gap between themselves and fifth placed Bayer Leverkusen. It is entirely likely that one year hence, Lucien Favre will be celebrating a second year as coach of Borussia Mönchengladbach. That alone would be some feat.

Borussia Mönchengladbach v Bayern Munich: Preview

‘Gladbach v Bayern: The Second Half of the Season Starts with a Bang!

  

In Matchday One, Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 1-0 triumph in the Allianz Arena (courtesy of the opportunism of Igor de Camargo, and severe lack of communication between Manuel Neuer and Jerome Boateng) was largely dispelled by fans and analysts alike as part of Bayern’s inevitable teething problems as they looked to bed into a new coaching regime, and revised defensive line. Indeed, having dominated the attempts on target (17:8), possession (with 59%) and crosses (27:0), such assertions would certainly look to have some merit. Cast forward 17 fixtures, and the best part of five months, and Bayern’s occupation of top spot in the Bundesliga would further bear that out.

However, what that victory did for ‘Gladbach and their fans was to reinforce the turnaround in fortunes enjoyed under the thus far remarkable tenure of Lucien Favre. The 54-year old took charge on Valentine’s Day 2011, and it’s fair to say that the relationship is still firmly entrenched in the honeymoon phase. Since taking the helm, the former Hertha coach has enjoyed a record of 17 wins, 5 draws, and just 8 defeats, guiding his team to fourth spot in the league, and the Quarter Final stage of the Pokal (where they meet Hertha in February). Nigh-on twelve months previously, that lofty position looked a long way off, with the side cast adrift at the foot of the table.

Last year, a 3-all draw at the Borussia Park and a 1-0 win for Bayern at the Allianz – the latter of which saw them finally occupying a Champions’ League spot, through Arjen Robben’s 77’ strike – indicated that, in actuality, there was little to choose between the two sides; save perhaps the belief engendered by positive results. And that indication has proven to be a solid prophecy for the current campaign. Much of the credit for the lofty traverse enjoyed by the Rhineland side has, justifiably, been levelled towards boss Lucien Favre.

Favre has served to put great store in a solid spine, as the fundamental part of his formation. And with the lineage of Marc-André ter Stegen, Dante and Felip Daems, Roman Neustädter and Marco Reus, and the much-maligned Mike Hanke, The Foals have arguably as resilient and dominant a backbone as any in the league. Favre has also alternated between a more standard 4-4-2, and a modified 4-4-1-1 that looks to emphasise the impact of Reus (deployed behind the striker), and Juan Arango. There is no doubt that those two have flourished, with Reus leading the Club’s scoring charts (with 10), and Arango heading the assists column (seven).

Fortress Borussia

Bayern, for their part, do not normally travel well to Mönchengladbach, having won there only once in the last nine visits, and that was some six years ago. That fact, however, has certainly not dented the confidence of Jupp Heynckes, who wrapped up their winter friendlies by boldly claiming: “We’re very well prepared heading into the second half of the season. Perfection is impossible to achieve in football, but we have a team which gives us every reason to be optimistic going forward”.

His apparent optimism was reinforced by two stars whose collective return to both fitness and form should sound a note of caution to ‘Gladbach: Messrs Robben and Schweinsteiger; who were both quick to suggest the break was indeed “perfect” for the Bavarian giants. The imminent return of the talismanic 90-cap international may have tempered Heynckes’ desire to focus too greatly on that area, or to delve into the transfer market with any gusto. And the Bayern head-honcho will be hoping for a swift return to form from ‘Schweini’, addressing the deficiencies so evident before the Christmas period, especially against Mainz and Dortmund.

In due deference to the ever-present pressure from the Bayern hierarchy (who have collectively dismissed the challenge of ‘Gladbach as little more than an irritation), Heynckes is likely to deploy both wingmen (Robben and Ribéry) alongside Thomas Müller, and behind the prolific Mario Gomez. So the reliance on the presence of Schweinsteiger will be immediately obvious, and with no side having kept ‘Gladbach from scoring at home so far this season, it is likely to be the midfield where the game is won or lost, with the home side liable to sit deep to use their counter-attacking speed: a tactic still more than tolerated against the Munich behemoth.

From a ‘Gladbach perspective, it is to be hoped that the confirmed summer departure of their own figurehead – Marco Reus, to Dortmund – does not have a equivalent destabilising impact to the previously MIA Schweinsteiger; and nor does the likewise move of Neustädter to Schalke.

On top of all other considerations, the two sides go into battle very much from divergent standpoints. While Bayern’s ascension simply marks a return to the status-quo, there is a distinct air of entering the ‘unknown’ for their Friday night hosts. Whether the five-week break will have fostered a change in mantra from ‘Gladbach seems unlikely – with captain Daems this week opining that we want to pick up a point or maybe even more…and deserve to be in fourth place. [W]e demonstrated in the first half of the season that we’re strong enough to deal with what may come” – but Favre will hope that his eleven will continue to play with the refreshing freedom of the first half of the season, without fearing thoughts of European competition to come.

One thing is for sure; ‘Gladbach’s position of mixing it in the top-four is fully merited. Indeed, as their prodigious shot-stopper ter Stegen commented to Bild this week: “[Being fourth] is no miracle. We work hard every day in training, and deserve to be there!”

While that position may feel like we’ve slipped into a time warp back to the ‘Gladbach heyday of the 1970s, it is very much the here-and-now. And the very worst mistake that Bayern could make would be to underestimate The Foals’; particularly in their own back yard.

For what it’s worth, I’m plumbing for a seat firmly on the fence: 1-1.

The Bundesliga Show mid season podcast

In order to test out the podcast settings for our new WordPress site, Jon and Terry got together  to record a short podcast. The transfer activities at Wolfsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach were the principle topic of discussion but there was time for a quick muse on what to look forward to before the season gets underway this Friday.

You can listen to the podcast but clicking on this link or by the embedded player below. If you subscribed via a feed but did not use iTunes then you will have the resubscribe to the new feed by clicking on this link.

The Tale of Two Talismans

Jon Hartley looks at the situation surrounding two of the Bundesliga’s most highly conveted players, Marco Reus and Lukas Podolski.

One of the big Bundesliga transfer stories has come to an end while another still rumbles on with no obvious solution in sight. Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne are not that far away in terms of distance, but they are miles apart when it comes to the solutions surrounding their prized assets. Marco Reus’ move in the summer to Borussia Dortmund for €17.5 million is a massive coup for the reigning champs, and signals their intent for the coming years. While down the road in Cologne, rumour and counter rumour concerning Lukas Podolski, looks like it will not be resolved anytime soon.

In the case of Reus, he has been the darling of the Bundesliga this season and has been at the centre of the Borussia Mönchengladbach revival, spearheaded by Lucien Favre. His impact cannot be understated in this incredible turnaround. A turnaround that has seen Gladbach go from bottom of the table at the end of 2010 to 4th at the end of 2011, and just a point off 2nd. Reus has contributed 10 of Gladbach’s 25 league goals this season, and has very much been at the teams creative heart. His direct style, good awareness of his teammates and even better eye for goal has seen him be a handful for even the best teams in the Bundesliga.

Despite his impact for Gladbach, Reus’ departure could well be good  for the club as a whole. €17.5 million is a good fee, and even better considering that he was picked up from Rot-Weiss Ahlen (having left Dortmund U-17s on a free) for €1 million in 2009. Not only is it is good return on their investment, but it also paves the way for Favre to carry on the good work he has started. He was unable to do that at Hertha Berlin during his tenure there, in part due to financial restrictions, but at Gladbach this move could well finance strengthening in more areas than just a replacement for Reus (if Patrick Hermann doesn’t step into his boots).

The timing of this move couldn’t be more ideal for Reus and his current club. The fact that it has come very early in the transfer window means that he can get down to business at the club’s winter training camp in Turkey without the distraction of speculation and negotiations. Good preparation and a great second half of the season is great news of Gladbach. They get to keep this talent until the end of the season and help push this team on, and leave the kind of legacy that will make him a favourite at the Borussia Park for years to come…with a return to European football.

For Cologne the story is not so rosey. Their return from the Christmas holiday began with a training session without Lukas Podolski due to a slight ankle injury. However, more importantly on the same day, the opening round of contract talks at surrounding a contract extension for the player didn’t go so well. It looks at the moment that Cologne are also going to have services of their top man until the end of the season, but under different circumstances than their Rheinland neighbours. Having contributed over half of the FC Cologne goals this season (14  in 16 games), ‘Prinz Poldi’ has given Cologne some thing of a dilemma. Top scorers are all well and good, but when he is also the hometown hero it certainly makes the issue that bit more complicated.

Sell Poldi and the club chances their hand of feeling the wrath of the fans. Don’t sell him and they missing out on their one great money spinner. Either way, he will almost certainly go in the summer and the fee will probably depend on how he does in the second half of the season and the European Champions…no pressure Lukas. So in the same way that Reus has a chance to leave a legacy, as does Podolski. But will his be as great? Speculation will follow Podolski like never before, and this kind of disruption is the last thing that Cologne needs. In his first press conference after the winter break, coach Stale Solbakken spoke positively about the future, and stated that he believed the team is understanding his concept. That suggests the start of stability, something that Cologne have been screaming out for, for sometime. Whether this can flourish with the Podolski transfer circus is unclear.

Would a pre-contract agreement that would see the striker depart in the summer be something that would benefit Cologne in terms of stability as well as financially? The complications surrounding Podolski’s relationship with the club makes this kind of level headed decision seem unlikely, as the club will continue to fight for a contract extension. With that in mind, it will just come down to whether he and Cologne can cope with the pressure and speculation that will mount in the coming months about his future. If being in the ‘shop window’ is something he relishes, he could well spur Cologne onto their best season in a long time and swell the coffers of the club. Who knows, that fee and a release from that carnival that surrounds Podolski, could be just what Cologne needs for a brighter long-term future.