For a club with a rich history in European football, a 16-season spell in the wilderness was painful to bear but, finally back in the continental spotlight, VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach are eager to make up for lost time.
"[In the 1970s] Mönchengladbach were one of the best teams in Europe along with Liverpool," said coach Lucien Favre. "I have good memories about that period and if we want to achieve that again ... well, anything is possible. You need time and you must do everything right."
The Foals have scarcely put a foot wrong in Europe this term, finishing runners-up to Fenerbahçe SK in UEFA Europa League Group C, ahead of Olympique de Marseille. "It's nice that we have made it this far, and that we managed to make it through the group," said goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen. "We hope there will be a lot more matches to come."
There will certainly be two games against S.S. Lazio in the round of 32 next month and Ter Stegen, who has been with the North Rhine-Westphalia side since he was four, is determined to make the most of them. "It's just incredible what's gone on here during the European matches," the 20-year-old said. "We have been enjoying this experience, it has been very special, and that certainly makes us proud."
It all bodes well for Mönchengladbach, currently eighth in the Bundesliga after coming fourth last season. It may be a far cry from the 1970s, when they won five Bundesliga titles and the UEFA Cup twice, but it is not bad for a team that were playing in the second division just five years ago.
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