Gladbach strolled into the group stage with the swagger of a side who managed an impressive 9-2 aggregate victory. Young Boys of Bern proved to be no match, but manager Andre Schubert is not one to rest on his laurels. Having experienced the rigours of Champions League football last season, (finishing last in a tricky group, coincidentally also containing Manchester City) both Schubert and his young collection of wonderkids are better equipped. The club have retained their faith with the majority of the squad that led them to a credible fourth domestically with only PSG starlet Mamadou Doucoure and Tobias Strobl of Hoffenheim strengthening the ranks. The return of world cup winner Christoph Kramer and Josip Drmic from loan spells adds strength and depth.
Star Man – Raffael
While the Brazilian often operates as the sides centre forward, he does not play in the manner of a traditional number 9. Instead he peels off onto either fullback, or drops deeper in search of space, leaving exploitable gaps for the onrushing wide men, probably a combination of Lars Stindl and Thorgan Hazard (brother of Chelsea’s Eden). Despite being unconventional in his style Raffael has still weighed in with his fair share of goals, notching more than ten in every season during his spell at Gladbach. It looks as if the attacker will be out of the away trip to Parkhead and that has to be good news for Celtic.
Unsung Hero – Mahmoud Dahoud
Just when you think the wealth of German midfield talent is beginning to run dry a new flood is brought to the fore. Borussia Dortmund’s Julien Weigl may receive more praise, but someone who is just as exciting is Gladbach’s Mahmoud Dahoud. The twenty-year-old’s impressive displays have seen him been linked to some of the game’s most illustrious clubs, most notably Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool. However, he is seen as indispensable by his club and, barring injury, will be a central figure for the visit to Parkhead. On their day Borussia Monchengladbach can be a truly bombastic force, the need to provide ballast often rests on the youngster’s slight shoulders.
This will be a very different game from the Man City draw before the international break. While the Germans have their injury problems they will still pose a very credible threat. Celtic have shipped ten goals in two games so Borussia will fancy they can score against us. They ran Barcelona very close on match day one, it’s up to Celtic to show the initiative and give this group a shake up.
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