"That was a terrible evening," declared borussia monchengladbach’s dutch center forward after his botched comeback to the international stage. Borussia’s most expensive new acquisition had promised a goal before the first leg of the playoff against dynamo kiev – and in the end he scored into his own goal to make the final score 1:3 (1:2) – probably the end of all dreams of the champions league.
This means that last season’s bundesliga runners-up will go into next wednesday’s playoff almost without a chance and would be only the fourth german club to miss out on the group stage of the european league in the qualifiers or playoffs. Of course, no one wanted to write off the ruck game yet. "I’ve also seen a team win 5-0 away from home. We have the quality to score three goals, even in kiev," said borussia professional mike hanke.
However, the new gladbach team lacks offensive strength. The high tempo, the accuracy of fit and the element of surprise – all gone. "Our strikers are all too similar," lamented coach lucien favre. "They all stay in the center, can’t find the right position. The right mix is missing. Last season we played with almost no forwards and found efficiency," said the coach, who admittedly knew before the season what offensive strengths were available to him.
The realignment needs time. "We don’t have that to integrate the new players. You need five or six games," said head of defense martin stranzl. In addition, the ukrainian top team from kiev showed what international experience means. "Maybe the champions league is still too early for us. Then we have to step on the gas in the europa league," said stranzl.
Everything was in place for the hosts, who were playing their first international match in monchengladbach since 1995. The 45,075 fans showed up in champions league form, staging a raucous spectacle with colorful images. And after 13 minutes, the production on the pitch was also in line. Alexander ring, who had been preferred to patrick herrmann, converted an inch-perfect cross from juan arango to score his first mandatory goal for borussia and make it 1-0.
But then an awkwardly deflected long-range shot from taras michalik levelled the scores before newcomers granit xhaka and alvaro dominguez blundered to give ukrainian young star andrej yarmolenko a 2-1 lead for kiev. "I hate that," favre said of defensive mistakes. The fact that de jong in the final phase inadvertently deflected a free kick into his own goal rounded off a black evening of football for monchengladbach. "I didn’t want it. I wanted to clear the ball with the left fub. But i hit it too high," de jong said, "shit happens."