On Europe’s second largest standing terrace, Borussia Mönchengladbach fans have acquired a reputation of creating one of Germany’s finest atmospheres.
It is therefore indicative of the terrible mess Gladbach are in that with five minutes left against Hamburger SV, fans trickled out of the ground to leave behind a muted and disenchanted audience.
Lucien Favre’s side are in disarray after four defeats from four games of the Bundesliga season.
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A slow start for an underprepared, injury-stricken squad who lost their top-scorer in the summer is not completely inexcusable, but a 3-0 hammering at home to perennial strugglers HSV, tipped by many to drop to the 2.Bundesliga for the first time in their history, sends a warning of deeper problems at Borussia-Park.
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Widespread issues affecting League form
As fans headed for the exits before full-time, several signs indicative of low confidence were on show.
Not least a lack of vibrancy from primarily vociferous fans but Favre’s body language on the touch line; a relative lack of sharpness in the players' performance.
Nothing better epitomises Gladbach’s rut than HSV’s first goal. Under pressure, Tony Jantschke fired a wayward pass back to goalkeeper Yann Sommer and Pierre-Michel Lasogga nipped in before tapping into an empty net.
Already shaky confidence was shot within ten minutes and they never recovered, conceding from a routine set piece before Nicolai Muller rounded off proceedings with a delicate chip.
Yet confidence is not the only issue as stifling injuries reared their ugly head once again.
Captain and leader from the heart of defence, Martin Stranzl, was stretchered off on his return with a suspected fractured cheekbone.
For as long as he and Alvaro Dominguez remain on the sidelines, Gladbach’s side lacks spine and a back four with steel. Marvin Schulz, 20, has struggled thus far and has lacked a regular partner as Favre sought a stable solution – Stranzl’s newest setback puts paid to those plans.
A lack of cutting edge up front shines even more limelight on a creaky defence, too.
Champions League to contend with
Among Favre’s existing problems at the club, another fresh dagger enters the fray in the coming weeks – the small matter of Europe’s largest club competition.
Gladbach take on Sevilla on Tuesday night in their first Champions League match before two arguably greater challenges in Manchester City and Juventus.
The 57-year-old has worked undoubted wonders since taking over in 2011 and a place on the European stage is just reward for steady progression, but their European exploits could stretch a thin squad to breaking point.
Being in such a tough group brings drawbacks at the best of times and in their current predicament, Gladbach could crash and burn with the fear of Favre's work in recent years being ruined in a demoralising European campaign.
The chips are down for Die Fohlen and Favre needs to work some magic to repair a timid looking side – then again, he has history of doing just that.
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