Agonizing DrawBy: Shane | September 26th, 2010
Schalke 2:2 Borussia Monchengladbach
It was a tough day at the AufSchalke Arena. This was probably best described by a certain Schalke fan the camera continued to pan towards during the match. It was an angry, grizzled grandma looking woman who had two expressions: either lamenting the fate of her team with a look of resignation as she slumped in her seat or indignantly standing up to hurl obscenities towards the field in outrage. The whole stadium had the feeling of frustration about it. We played the best half of football we have played to date this season. The problem was we ended that half down 2-0.
Magath seems to learn his lessons slowly. “Moritz is a mistake at RB, check. Hmm, who to put there? I’ll put a natural CB there in Howedes!” Of course disaster ensues. Howedes commits the penalty foul on Bobadilla which makes it 1-0 and he is again to blame on the 2nd goal as he lets Reus slip in behind him easily and his run and pass sets up a simple finish for Michael Bradley. Like in the Freiburg game, Magath realizes his RB mistake at half time and corrects it. Ironically, as bad as Moritz was against Freiburg we were not punished for it. Sadly, against Monchengladbach this was not the case. I am 100% convinced if Magath had started Uchida or Sarpei at RB we would have won the game. The lesson he hopefully learns is that he needs to stop playing midfielders and center backs at fullback. Even if it is a natural LB, play them at RB over someone else.
I couldn’t believe we trailed 2-0 at half time. We should’ve been at a minimum tied if not winning. Jurado was superb and adds so much to our attacking game. I can’t stress enough how impressive he was today. We have no other player like him and he is exactly what we need. He set up so many chances and was the creator at the heart of everything. Why it has taken this long to make him a starter is beyond me. We had chances galore, but the mistakes in the line-up made us the large trailers at the half. In fact this game overall had so many chances for each side that it is impossible to go through them all. It honestly could have finished 5-5 and I would not have been surprised.
Trailing 2-0 at half time we subbed Uchida on for Plestan and moved Howedes inside to his natural role at CB. Uchida has not been amazing and he was not that good in the 2nd half, but he was solid and decent defensively. We would not have trailed 2-0 if Uchida had started at RB. This game essentially went that we had a lot of possession and pushed for chances and Monchengladbach played a very dangerous counter attack game.
Some minor comments on the referee. Usually, I am a huge proponent of German referees and wish they would get nearly all of the CL and International matches, but today the referee was quite awful. I have not seen this referee before so I assume he is relatively new, but he called a poor match. There were a ton of nitpicky / phantom calls that made no sense. Monchengladbach played ridiculously dirty and physical the whole game, but it took until the last 15 minutes to get the red card that should’ve happened ages earlier. About the only things this ref did get right was the 1st half penalty decision and several offsides calls that his linesmen can be credited for.
Let’s go through some player ratings Kicker style (rating scale of 1-6, with 1 being the best and 6 the worst):
Huntelaar 3: He continues to be the tor factory scoring his 3rd in 3 matches. He did have chances to score more and I wish to high heavens he had converted those, but you can find no fault with him. He creates well, his touch is strong, and he finishes superbly. He has an innate instinct for goal that cannot be taught.
Matip 2.5: The center DM anchor is his best position. He has a great sense of anticipation by reading the game and he constantly shut down attacks by slowing them down or making great tackle. Like against Freiburg he really showed his class. Matip is impressing me more and more. He just needs to be played in his correct position, as he was today.
Jurado 2.5: He had an exquisite first half. I still don’t know how we trailed by 2 goals after that half. In the 2nd he was still effective. We have no other player who can do what he does. He is essential to our team and should 100% be a starter from here on out.
Howedes: 1st half he gets a 5. Second half he gets a 3.5. He’s simply not a RB so I can’t fault him that much for being to blame for both of Gladbach’s goals. When he was moved to CB in 2nd half he was his usual, solid self.
Metzelder 3.5: I’ve been one of his biggest criticizers, but today, like Freiburg, he played pretty well. He still looks slow and reads plays poorly, but he’s gotten better. Him or Plestan at CB to pair Howedes is a close call, but I would have to begrudgingly say Metzelder gets the nod.
Raul 4.5: Yes, he scored a goal. Did he do anything outside of that? No. In 6 matches now all I can say Raul has done is marginally been a part of setting up 1 goal and scoring 1 goal. This is not impressive. Maybe this goal spurs him on and he gets on a roll, but I have a hard time seeing it. He is mostly non-existent out there and seems to be aimlessly running around. Sometimes he drops all the way back to our defense to get a ball for no reason.
Rakitic, Jones, Schmitz, Plestan, Uchida, Edu, Neuer 4: All these players were ok. Nothing special, nothing awful. The one stand out might be Neuer who looked to have an early middle finger injury, but played through the pain. He is always a world class keeper. He didn’t have many big saves to make today.
We are now narrowly are out of the basement by moving 1 point ahead of Stuttgart. We trail league leaders Mainz by 14 points. We face Benfica on Wednesday at home. If we lose this match then it is really difficult to still qualify for the CL knock out rounds. We have to at least get a draw and if we’re serious then we need a win. I’m a naively superstitious person and I’ve noticed that after 5 defeats we have won 1 and drawn 1 when I didn’t do match previews. With that in mind I will refrain from a Benfica preview in the hopes of keeping some kind of karma going (however misguided it may be).