Fourth place Borussia Mönchengladbach host third place Schalke 04 in a game that prove vital come May time in terms of who secures a place in next seasons’ UEFA Champions League.
Two of the top four in-form Bundesliga sides in the last five games, Borussia and Schalke have both successfully overcome their below average starts to the season.
Mönchengladbach have lost just once in their last five games, which came last time out on matchday 14 in a humbling 3-0 defeat away to VfL Wolfsburg. An impressive 3-1 at Hoffenheim kickstarted their four match unbeaten run. A 4-2 win at Hertha Berlin came after a frustrating 1-1 draw at home to struggling Mainz.
Arguably the result of the season for The Foals came when they toppled giants Bayern Munich 2-1 at Borussia Park thanks to goals from Thorgan Hazard and Matthias Ginter. Borussia have failed to score more than two goals in any of their last 12 home Bundesliga games. The last time they netted more was in a 4-2 win incidentally over Schalke in March.
Schalke’s draw with Cologne extended their unbeaten run to eight games, which is their longest undefeated spell in almost eight years. Away wins at Hertha Berlin and Freiburg both came before their miraculous comeback against Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby. The Royal Blues came back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4, defender Naldo netting the decisive late equaliser. Naldo has two goals from defence with Gladbach’s defensive pairing of Jannik Vestergaard and Matthias Ginter scoring more, the league’s top scoring defenders with three goals apiece. Schalke have also picked up home wins against Mainz and Hamburg in their impressive unbeaten run.
Both sides will have their key players to rely on, Mönchengladbach have Thorgan Hazard, whilst Schalke will be relying on in form striker Guido Burgstaller for some inspiration and goalscoring prowess. Hazard now looks back to his influential best with three goals in the last five including a penalty in the huge win against table toppers Bayern Munich.
In his two seasons with Zulte Waregem and a loan made permanent at Gladbach, the younger Hazard’s development has continued and he is thriving in the Bundesliga this term. Although he failed to get a goal or assist in his first three games of the season, he deserved more for his efforts as he stayed lively around the box and helped build attacks. On the other hand, Burgstaller has also found his feet after a dodgy start to the season. Just one goal in his first seven, Burgstaller was starting to feel the pressure with fans favourite Franco Di Santo nearing full fitness at the time, now Burgstaller looks back to his best. Six goals in his last nine, including three in his last three, the Austrian international is one of the key assessed for the Royal Blues as they push for a return to the UEFA Champions League next season.
The hosts are without midfielders Ibrahima Traore and Jonas Hoffman, with Gladbach suffering a few hits to an already slim looking squad. Patrick Hofmann (knee), Tobias Strobl (knee) and Laszlo Benes (metatarsal) remain out for The Foals. Gladbach will be relying on the forward pairing of Raffael and club captain Lars Stindl, with key man Thorgan Hazard and summer signing Vincenzo Grifo providing chances for them from either wing.
Schalke will be without key man Leon Goretzka who has been struggling with an ongoing lower leg injury for the past few weeks, with Weston McKennie and Max Meyer forming a solid central midfield partnership in Goretzka’s absence. Nabil Bentaleb (muscular) and Pablo Insua (inflammation) are Schalke’s only absentees. Right wing patnerhsip of Daniel Caligiuri and Amine Harit are proving deadly for Schalke in the past few weeks, keeping Alessandro Schöpf and Breel Embolo seated on the bench.
Score Prediction: Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-2 Schalke 04