DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Fabian Johnson and Borussia Mönchengladbach need only to avoid a complete and utter collapse on Wednesday in order to secure their spot in the Champions League.
The Foals' 3-1 victory in Bern in last Tuesday's first leg put them into a commanding position to advance past opponents Young Boys, and only the unthinkable would prevent them from reaching the group stage for the second season running.
They were forced to fight tooth and nail for their eventual 1-0 win over fourth-tier SV Drochtersen/Assel in the first round of the DFB Pokal over the weekend, although it should be taken as one of the typical blips all-too-often displayed by overconfident Bundesliga teams in the early stages of that competition.
While they are not without their injury issues, they have more than enough firepower to easily maintain, if not build upon their significant first-leg advantage.
New Foal Laszlo Benes could be set to make his debut from the bench after recovering from a thigh problem, although defenders Alvaro Dominguez and Marvin Schulz along with forward Josip Drmic are still out with various knocks.
Johnson appeared as a substitute for the team both in their first-leg win as well as in the weekend's Cup game, and will likely continue to be an option from the bench on Wednesday as well.
Bern are coming off a confidence-building 7-2 league win over Lausanne over the weekend, and any chance they have on Wednesday will hinge upon them riding the momentum into Borussia-Park like a herd of wild elephants.
They will continue to miss midfielder Sékou Sanogo, defender Sven Joss and forward Alexander Gerndt, all of whom are out for extended periods of time with various injuries.
They are performing relatively well in league play, sitting third in the Swiss Super League, but in all likelihood are looking forward to what will be their fourth Europa League group stage appearance in the last decade.
The game is set to kick off at 8:45pm local time in Borussia-Park.