There aren’t many German clubs with the European pedigree of Borussia Monchengladbach, yet when the Foals take to the field against Manchester City this week they will be at a level they haven’t scaled since the 1970s and 80s, when the club made a habit of making the latter rounds of continental competition.
While Gladbach haven’t quite been restored to their former glory, when they were German soccer’s predominant force, Marco Rose took the club into the Champions League for the first time last season, backing up that achievement by getting out of a group that included Real Madrid, Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk.
Borussia Monchengladbach’s reward for this is a last 16 tie against Pep Guardiola’s City side. At the time of the draw back in December, Rose would have fancied his chances, given his opponent's struggle for momentum at the time. Now, Manchester City are 10 points clear at the top of the Premier League and well on their way to a third title in the last four years.
Gladbach are also facing up to a future without Rose, as after much speculation the 44-year-old was confirmed to take over as Borussia Dortmund’s next manager for the start of next season. Along with Julian Nagelsmann, Rose is widely seen as German soccer’s next great coach and will have more talent and greater resources to build a team at the Westfalenstadion.
Rose’s exit at the end of the season will be a real test of what Gladbach have built. Their team is one of the most dynamic in the Bundesliga with almost every squad member at Borussia Park capable of playing in a number of different positions. Tactically, there are few sides as interchangeable and fluid as Rose’s Borussia Monchengladbach.
In terms of individual talent, Gladbach have the quality to stay competitive at the top end of the Bundesliga after Rose leaves. Marcus Thuram has allowed his standards to drop from last season, when he notched 10 goals and eight assists in 31 league appearances, but the Frenchman remains a key figure.
Alassane Plea is another who has struggled to reach the heights of last season, but his slack has been picked up by Lars Stindl, Jonas Hoffman, Nico Elvedi and Matthias Ginter. Whoever takes over from Rose this summer will have a lot to mould with. The Borussia Monchengladbach job will be an attractive one.
American Jesse Marsch is seen by many as the frontrunner to succeed Rose having followed a similar path to the Gladbach boss. Like Rose, Marsch has proven himself at Red Bull Salzburg, making a good impression with the Austrian side in European competition. The American knows how to harness young talent and this is something that makes him a good candidate for Gladbach.
Ajax manager Erik ten Hag is another who has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Rose, underlining the progress Gladbach have made over the last few seasons. Ajax made the semi finals of the Champions League not so long ago, yet ten Hag would have a higher ceiling to achieve more at Borussia Park.
The Bundesliga is desperate for a club to establish itself as genuine challengers to Bayern Munich’s supremacy. Not since Dortmund won the title in 2012 have the Bavarians been toppled, with German soccer’s brightest and best talent frequently poached by the Allianz Arena outfit. See how RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano will become a Bayern Munich player this summer.
Dortmund are counting on Rose to close the gap on Bayern Munich while Nagelsmann continues to make strides at RB Leipzig. Borussia Monchengladbach, however, are of the size and stature as a club to stay within this sort of company. They have the history and they could have the future too with the right guidance.
With nine points between the top four places in the Bundesliga table and Gladbach in eighth, Rose has some work ahead of him to make the club’s Champions League status stick for a second straight season. A recent winless run of four games hints at a team that has somewhat lost its way.
Nonetheless, Gladbach could trouble Manchester City in Wednesday’s Champions League tie just as they did Real Madrid and Inter earlier in the season. This is still Rose’s team and while it will soon be someone else’s, the Bundesliga outfit have been presented with an opportunity to showcase the strides they have made.