VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach boast a glorious past, but the five-time Bundesliga champions are putting their faith in a fresh-faced squad to help revive the glory days at Borussia-Park.
The core of the side which surprisingly finished fourth last season was gutted over the summer, with Borussia Dortmund-bound top scorer Marco Reus followed through the exit door by midfielder Roman Neustädter and centre-back Dante. All that remained of the spine of the team was 20-year-old goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen, with equally tender flesh acquired to augment the bones that remained. However, Luuk de Jong, 22, Granit Xhaka, 20, and Álvaro Domínguez, 23, have all slotted in.
"There is potential," De Jong told UEFA.com ahead of Thursday's visit of Olympique de Marseille. "I think when you play at this level, you also need experience. Xhaka has played in the Champions League, Marc-André has been around a while and with the national team. We have the qualities, and the other players are good. You can see that in training. It's just that during the bad times, things go wrong. We're in a bad spot, and we need to come out of that by working as a team."
The youngsters' mettle has certainly been tested after a sluggish start to both their domestic and European campaigns. Stuttering in the Bundesliga, Lucien Favre's men were pipped to a maiden UEFA Champions League group stage berth by FC Dynamo Kyiv. The UEFA Europa League has proved equally taxing, with just a single point earned in two Group C contests. Reus has been missed.
"Marco Reus was a great player and still is, and we also lost some other players," added De Jong. "It's always difficult when you lose some players and get new ones in. You have to get used to each other. You need to build an understanding. Of course, the club have lost these players because they are good, and there's nothing you can do about that. We as a team cannot live in the past. We need to go on, keep our heads up."
It is Favre's job to ensure that results do not suffer irreparably during this period of transition. "I think everyone helps each other," added De Jong. "Everyone can say anything to anyone else in the team, and I think that's good. There are guys like Martin [Stranzl] and Filip Daems, who talk to people. But everyone can talk, that's what we need. We have a good squad and we have a lot of fun."
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