The second coming of the Rheinland Derby arrives on Saturday evening as Borussia Monchengladbach hosts FC Koln at Borussia-Park.
In the first meeting between these two, Monchengladbach ran out comfortable 3-1 winners at the RheinEnergieSTADION in front of 300 fans.
Koln go into the derby off the back of a huge 3-1 win over relegation rivals Arminia Bielefeld. Two goals from Marius Wolf set them on their way as they moved above their opponents into 14th place. There is still one point between them, Bielefeld, and Hertha Berlin, so more wins are still required to avoid the relegation playoff spot.
The fight to avoid the dreaded 16th position may seem tight, but it is nothing like the race for Europe which Monchengladbach find themselves in. A 1-1 draw at Union Berlin last weekend was a very respectable point, but the result dropped them from 5th to 7th. There is no need for mass concern at Borussia-Park, though, as only three points is seperates them in 7th and Wolfsburg in 3rd. That sets the stage for a potential thriller next weekend as Monchengladbach travel to Wolfsburg.
Borussia Monchengladbach - There are no injury issues for Marco Rose to deal with as Valentino Lazaro now has recovered from a minor muscle tear.
Koln - Sebastian Andersson is the only certain absentee with a knee injury, although there are others that are likely to miss out. Sebastian Bornauw is 50/50 with a back injury while Marius Wolf has a slight ankle problem after his match winning performance last weekend. Captain Jonas Hector is also a doubt, and Florian Kainz is building up his fitness after a long term knee injury, so it's unclear if either will feature.
Borussia Monchengladbach - Yann Sommer; Stefan Lainer, Nico Elvedi, Matthias Ginter, Ramy Bensebaini; Florian Neuhaus, Denis Zakaria; Jonas Hofmann, Lars Stindl, Marcus Thuram; Breel Embolo
Koln - Timo Horn; Rafael Czichos, Jorge Mere, Jannes Horn; Benno Schmitz, Ellyes Skhiri, Elvis Rexhbecaj, Noah Katterbach; Ondrej Duda, Ismail Jakobs; Emmanuel Dennis
Borussia Monchengladbach - DWWDW - last game - 2-1 (W) vs Stuttgart
Koln - DWLWL - last game - 2-2 (lost on penalties) vs Jahn Regensburg
Ones to watch
Borussia Monchengladbach - The last game of 2020 was a disaster for both the club and Marcus Thuram. A 2-1 defeat to Hoffenheim left the team way off the European spots, and Thuram was sent off for spitting at an opponent to make things worse. Ever since, it has been a huge upturn. Gladbach won four out of the five games without the Frenchman, but he made his mark against Borussia Dortmund upon his return, heading in a corner to seal a 4-2 win over the Black and Yellow. His return to the team could be crucial in Monchengladbach's fight for a Champions League spot.
Koln - Tunisian midfielder Ellyes Skhiri has arguably been Koln's most important player this season. Playing mostly as a defensive midfielder, his protection for the back four has been extremely important to Markus Gisdol's team. Not only has his defensive attributes been worthy of praise, but the former Montpellier man has also come up with some decisive goals throughout the campaign, most notably the two goals he scored in a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in November.
Monchengladbach have dominated the Rheinland Derby in recent seasons, winning seven out of the last nine encounters. Last campaign Gladbach did the double over the Billy Goats, and they'll hope to repeat that fate on Saturday after their 3-1 victory back in October.
How to watch
The game will be broadcasted live on BT Sport 2 at 17:30 GMT in the UK, while fans in the United States can watch the contest on ESPN+.
What have the managers said?
Borussia Monchengladbach, Marco Rose - "Derbies are always special. A lot can happen. We need to be ready for thats. I'm expecting Koln to put up a big fight - they've gained some stability in recent weeks."
"The lads know what this derby means. They want to win the game, for themselves and for the fans. They don't need any extra motivation."
Borussia Monchengladbach, Max Eberl - "We want to beat Koln on Saturday - after that we will be crossing our fingers for them that they can avoid relegation, because we would like to have a derby next season."
Koln, Markus Gisdol - "We will analyse Borussia Monchengladbach intensively and present that analysis to our team. Its an important derby for us. They are a Champions League team."