Borussia Mönchengladbach has lost its fourth game on the bounce after a 3-0 defeat at home to Hamburg on Friday evening.
Despite competing in the UEFA Champions League this season, Gladbach lies bottom of the table without a win this season. Pierre-Michel Lasogga scored a double in the first-half for the Northern Germans who move up to seventh after a positive start to their campaign. Nicolai Müller's second half strike put the icing on the cake for Hamburg.
But the problems continue to mount for Gladbach who finished third in the Bundesliga last season. The respective losses of Max Kruse and Christoph Kramer have been pivotal this summer as Lucien Favre tries to inject some confidence into his side after a wretched start to the campaign.
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Qualifying for the Champions League was intended to signal the rebirth of Gladbach, one of Germany's most successful sides in decades gone by. But the form leading up to the Matchday one encounter in Sevilla (live, Sept. 15, Tuesday, FOX Soccer 2 Go, 2:30 p.m. ET) will have Gladbach fans worrying.
''It was a slap in the face for all of us,'' said Moenchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl, whose side next turns its attention to the Champions League. ''We have to go to Sevilla on Tuesday and we have to try to have a good game.''
Favre was given mixed news in midweek when experienced center-back Martin Stranzl came through his first full 90 minutes in six months. However, Patrick Herrmann was ruled out with a knee injury in the friendly win over Swiss side FC Sion. Favre's three changes from the 2-1 loss at Werder Bremen included Stranzl's return at the back, whilst Granit Xhaka was suspended and Julian Korb returned at right back. Meanwhile, Labbadia made five changes to his side after a narrow 3-2 defeat to Cologne on Matchday Three.
Bustling center-forward Lasogga, who cost HSV around $11 million in 2014, replaced Sven Schipplock in attack, looking to add to one goal this season. New signing Aaron Hunt made his debut for the club having spent 13 years at Werder Bremen, the club's nearest rivals, while Gojko Kacar replaced suspended Emir Spahic in defense.
If you can credit Labbadia with anything, it's that he's made Hamburg a competent team in the space of a few months. They're far from world-beaters, but there's stability and purpose about the Red Shorts who have endured years of misery, exacerbated by terrible management in recent seasons.
Returning Stranzl almost had the ball in his own net inside 100 seconds as HSV started on the front-foot. Lasogga was in the right mood, charging around the pitch and generally combining with the midfielders to prevent Gladbach using the ball at the back. He pinched one from Tony Jantschke on 11 minutes, finishing off with a close-range shot to put the visitors ahead.
The Foals appear to have caught the same illness that Dortmund had last season. Favre's side and had very minimal creativity in attack. The performances of Thorgan Hazard and Raffael, and their lack of influence, will be a concern.
Hamburg hasn't been able to outperform teams in the Bundesliga for some time, but fired on by the excellent Lewis Holtby, they looked reinvigorated. Since saving the club from relegation in extra time of last season's playoff, Labbadia has seen his side take a trouncing at Bayern Munich, beat Stuttgart with a late comeback and battle well in Cologne for 70-odd minutes.
And Hamburg would find itself in pole position by the break. In the 44th minute, Lasogga rose highest at a corner kick, heading in from three yards out despite the best efforts of Gladbach goalie Yann Sommer to keep the ball out.
The 23-year-old striker tested Sommer five minutes after the restart, cutting in from the left and striking the ball just over the crossbar. On 52 minutes, the lead was extended. A long punt from keeper Jaroslav Drobny found Müller behind the defensive lines and he lobbed Sommer with a sweet finish.
Hamburg's tactics shifted from scoring to stability, the 4-3-3 formation functioning well and limiting opportunities for Gladbach in the last-third. Ivo Ilicevic looked capable of threatening on the break after the hour mark, but Sommer was only forced into action once from the wide man.
Things went from bad to worse for the home side when Stranzl was stretchered off late on with a nasty head injury, which will leave him doubtful for the midweek trip to Seville. His loss didn't upset things as much as the previous three matches.
Yet in attack, Gladbach's problems were laid bare as Favre recalled upon the disappointing Josip Drmic who has been disappointing since his move from Leverkusen. Without defensive strength, goals in attack or confidence, the Champions League is coming round at a bad time for Favre and Gladbach.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.