It may not have been pretty, but Borussia Monchengladbach were able to pick up a key win on Tuesday afternoon as the Foals beat Werder Bremen 1-0 at Borussia-Park.
An even affair throughout, a header from Nico Elvedi would be what separated the two sides at fulltime. Bremen had a few chances late on to equalize, but they just couldn’t convert when it mattered most.
Story of the match
After dominating possession early on, Gladbach created the first big chance of the contest after only five minute. Oscar Wendt whipped a free kick into the area, and his cross picked out centerback Nico Elvedi. He couldn’t make the most of the opportunity, though, hitting his header right to Bremen goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.
The game started to open up as both sides looked to hit on the break. Josh Sargent did well after sneaking in behind the Gladbach backline, but his lay off was intercepted. Then, Pavlenka was nearly sent off after rushing out and missing the ball with a diving header, making contact with an opposing player instead. Luckily for him, he was only shown a yellow card since one of his defenders had gotten back.
Bremen came close to taking the lead midway through the half. Romano Schmid made solid contact with a volley attempt, and it seemed like the ball was going to fly into the back of the net. However, he would be denied by a superb save from Yann Sommer.
Sommer was then booked himself a bit later. He took out Sargent on the edge of the area, but just like Pavlenka, he was only booked since defender Matthias Ginter had gotten back. It’s a good thing he did, as he was forced to clear a shot from Felix Agu off the line since play had continued.
The second half started quite slowly, but Gladbach would open the scoring near the hour mark. A free kick hit into the box by substitute Laszlo Benes found Elvedi, and unlike earlier, he was able to pick out the bottom corner with a header to give his side the lead.
Bremen thought they had equalized with about five minutes to go after some magic from Milot Rashica. Bringing the ball down before turning and shooting in a blink of the eye, his attempt only bounced off of the post, though, and Sommer was eventually able to collect the ball.
The away side had another chance only moments later as a loose ball fell to Leonardo Bittencourt. Unfortunately for them, he made a mess of the finish, skying a shot from close range.
That would prove to be their final opportunity as Gladbach were able to keep possession and secure the result.
There’s a reason why one of these sides is contending for a European spot while the other is fighting to avoid relegation once again.
All things considered, it was a very even matchup. Both sides had chances, and their respective gameplans each worked to a certain degree. However, the difference was that Gladbach made the most of their chances while Bremen did not.
Elvedi’s header was quite a spectacular one, as he somehow managed to adjust his body to make contact with a header before then guiding the ball into the bottom corner. The away side just couldn’t do the same, as their attempts were either saved, hit the woodwork, or flew off target. Some will consider Rashica unlucky to have his shot slam off the post, but he was quite close to goal and arguably could’ve done better.
The result is a harsh one on Bremen, but it should teach them a lesson going into the future. If you don’t convert, you won’t get the results you want. Gladbach knows how to do just that, which is why they’re the ones who will take three points from the contest.
Man of the match - Nico Elvedi
A goal and a clean sheet is every centerbacks dream going into a match, and Elvedi was able to do just that on the afternoon.
He was a constant threat on set pieces, which helped Gladbach going forward as their attackers just didn’t show up. The Swiss international may not have done well with his first chance early on, but he wouldn’t make the same mistake twice. As mentioned earlier, his goal came courtesy of a superb header, with Elvedi somehow getting his attempt into the bottom corner past the outstretched arms of Pavlenka.
He was solid at the back as well, using his pace to prevent any Bremen counter attacks. Sure, Elvedi was bailed out on some occasions due to quality saves from Sommer and Bremen’s poor finishing, but he still managed to keep a clean sheet at the end of the day.
Elvedi has become one of the league’s best defenders, and performances like this show why that is the case.