Borussia Mönchengladbach 21/22 season preview: Can Adi Hütter bring European football back?
Photo by Christian Verheyen via Getty Images

Last season was a rough one for everyone involved at Borussia Mönchengladbach. The mid-season announcement that coach Marco Rose would be departing set the foals on a downward spiral leading to an 8th place finish and no European football.

Gladbach start the 21/22 season with a new man at the helm. Austrian Adi Hutter decided to leave Eintracht Frankfurt for a new challenge at Borussia-Park citing the chance to work with highly-regarded sporting director, Max Eberl as a substantial reason behind that. His task for this campaign will be to add consistency to an extremely talented group of players and return the foals to the elite of European football.

Last season, was an extreme disappointment albeit with an ongoing pandemic meaning fans were only able to attend matches at the formative parts of the year. And receiving the news that Marco Rose would be departing for Borussia Dortmund come the end of the campaign in February while they were in competition with the Black and Yellow for a Champions League spot. An 8th placed finish was seen as an unsatisfactory result for the foals.

Many players put in inconsistent performances with the likes of Marcus Thuram, Alassane Plea and Ramy Bensebaini not performing to the same extent that they had in Marco Rose's first term. While others such as Denis Zakaria struggled after returning from a serious knee injury. 

There was still some positives, Florian Neuhaus and Jonas Hofmann both had stellar campaigns which resulted them in being rewarded with spots in Germanys Euro squad (albeit neither played a single minute). While wins against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in which the aforementioned Neuhaus and Hofmann starred will live in the memories of Gladbach supporters who sadly could not be in Borussia-Park to see those victories live.

Pre-season recap

The foals started pre-season relatively slowly but as more and more of their key players have come back from their breaks after participating in recent International tournaments, results have started to pick up.

A 2-0 win over Bayern Munich is the standout result with goals coming from Hannes Wolf and youngster Michael Wentzel.

Two more victories against Groningen from the Dutch Eredivise and Metz of Ligue 1 have come after a 3-1 defeat to Paderborn and a 2-2 with Viktoria Koln which marked the foals return to action.

One player that has stood out is young Irish midfielder Conor Noss who at 20 is yet to make his Bundesliga debut but with goals against Metz and Paderborn he may be able to catch Adi Hutter's eye.

A final point on pre-season is that Hutter has been using a 4-2-3-1 formation which differs from the 3-4-2-1 he had used to great affect at Frankfurt. It will be extremely interesting to see how they line-up come next Friday when they open the Bundesliga season against Bayern.

Transfer business

Due to the effects of COVID-19, Gladbach have been extremely quiet in the transfer market. Max Eberl has made it clear that players will only sign if other players can be moved on. With Matthias Ginter and Denis Zakaria the two most likely to leave as both have struggled to commit to a new deal.

As for the few players who have joined the most exciting is young Hertha Berlin left-back Luca Netz.  The 18-year-old joins for a €4m fee after appearing 11 times before a metatarsal fracture ended his campaign prematurely. Hannes Wolf also arrives from Leipzig on a permanent deal after spending the previous campaign with the foals. The Austrian attacking midfielder had an up and down season but did score the winner against his parent club in a 1-0 victory last November.

Departures wise Oscar Wendt and Ibrahima Traore are the main ones of a note. Both leave after lengthy spells with the club. Wendt returns to his native Sweden with IFK Goteborg while Traore is yet to find a new destination. The only other players to move away are Michael Lang who heads back to Basel, Julio Villalba to Guayaquil City and Max Grun to Aschaffenburg.

Key player

Gladbach have a wide range of players that are roughly around the same level of quality so the key member of the squad could be any of seven or eight of them. While saying that, the foals look a significantly better team when Matthias Ginter is playing than when he is not. Despite being in the middle of a contract dispute with his current deal expiring next summer. The 27-year-old if he stays will play a large role in their hopes to return to continental football.

Arriving in the summer of 2017, Ginter has made over 125 appearances for Gladbach now and also played in all of Germany's European Championship matches in June. His partnership with Nico Elvedi had helped them return to Champions League football in 2020 but an 8th place finish last term has left his future at Borussia-Park in doubt.

Being one of their more consistent performers last season has resulted in Ginter wanting European football with moves to the likes of Bayer Leverkusen and Tottenham Hotspur being touted. Both have since signed alternative centre-backs so the former Dortmund player's future may lie in Monchengladbach after all.

Breakthrough talent

The foals' breakthrough talent is likely to be between two players who both joined in January, Kouadio Kone from Toulouse and Joe Scally from New York City FC.

As of the time of writing, Scally is more likely to make the breakthrough this season. Kone, suffered an unfortunate MCL injury in training after joining up with the group (Kone spent the second half of the 2020/21 campaign on loan at Toulouse). While the American full back has been held in high regard by his manager. Adi Hutter saying that "He has so much of what you need in modern football and that he has done a fine job in pre-season".

Still only 18 and with fellow full-back Ramy Bensebaini out for the forseeable future, Scally may see an opportunity to break into the first team. Starting with Friday's affair against Bayern Munich.

Key dates

13/08 - Bayern Munich (H) - First game of the season

21/08 - Bayer Leverkusen (A)

25/09 - Borussia Dortmund (H) - Marco Rose returns

27/11 - Koln (A) - Rheinland Derby

11/12 - Leipzig (A)

08/01 - Bayern Munich (A) - Start of the Ruckrunde

15/01 - Bayer Leverkusen (H)

19/02 - Borussia Dortmund (A)

16/04 - Koln (H)

30/04 - Leipzig (H)

07/05 - Eintracht Frankfurt (A) - Adi Hutter returns

14/05 - Hoffenheim (H) - Final game of the season

Writer's verdict

With no European football to act as a distraction. Gladbach should be poised to make a push for the Champions League spots. Bayern and Dortmund should be fighting for the title. While it would be a surprise if Leipzig miss out especially after the signing of Andre Silva. The final place in European footballs most coveted competition is up for grabs. 

Bayer Leverkusen have lost Leon Bailey, although the appointment of Gerardo Seoane is an exciting one. Wolfsburg are likely to be weaker without the pragmatism of Oliver Glasner and Mark van Bommel is still seen as an unknown quantity in coaching terms after a mixed spell at PSV. Adi Hutter's old employers in Eintracht Frankfurt are likely to be the only other competitor for a top four spot with Glasner heading to the financial capital. The onus will be on Rafael Santos Borre, the Colombian striker who has arrived from River Plate to replicate Silva's goalscoring glut.

With everything being taken into consideration. I think Monchengladbach will just miss out on the top four with Leverkusen pipping them to the final Champions League spot. Although a fifth place finish will be seen as a considerable improvement from last season.