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3.12.2021Bundesliga

Our next opponents: Cloverleaves are still standing

SpVgg Greuther Fürth visit the Werkself in the Bundesliga on Saturday, 4 December (kick-off: 15.30 CET). The newly promoted team from Franconia are currently holding up the top-flight in Germany with just one point. But there are several rays of hope for the team coached by Stefan Leitl. The lowdown on our next opponents.
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Position

It was clear to the Cloverleaves from the start that staying up would be a Herculean task. "Promotion was a sensational achievement. If we can stay up that would be equally sensational," declared Fürth sporting managing director Rachid Azzouzi in the summer. The hopes of the 50-year-old, that the Green and Whites could surprise the Bundesliga this term, have not been fulfilled so far. Fürth have only picked up one point from the first 13 games – against Arminia Bielefeld in a 1-1 draw on matchday two – and they are currently bottom of the Bundesliga. The team under head coach Stefan Leitl have lost all of their last 11 games. They suffered a 6-3 defeat last time out at home to TSG Hoffenheim. However, the captain Branimir Hrgota remains combative: "I was never somebody to give up – and I won't do it now. And my team won't give up either but we have to do more than we are at the moment."

Personnel

In terms of personnel, Leitl will have to manage without striker Jessic Ngankam (torn cruciate) and Havard Nielsen will probably be sidelined as he was unable to train with the team this week due to a bout of flu. However, there is more positive news from a Fürth perspective: Justin Hoogma (knee), Nick Viergever (ankle) and Gideon Jung (meniscus) could make their comebacks soon. All three defenders trained on Wednesday "in isolated technical sessions" as coach Leitl said ahead of the clash with the Werkself: "It looked very good and we will gradually increase the workload." It remains to be seen if they will be able to play against Leverkusen. It does look different with Paul Seguin. The midfield dynamo, recently out of action due to a cold, will probably be able to return to the starting line-up.

Talking about starting line-ups: Above all, the two young talented players Timothy Tillman (22) and Jamie Leweling (20) have impressed recently. The duo made their mark in the attack against TSG and were both rewarded with a goal. Leweling also provided the assist for strike from Hrgota that made it 5-3. "I'm happy about the goal; but I would have preferred to have picked up points for the team," said Tillman who made his third start in the current Bundesliga campaign against Hoffenheim and his goal will put him in the running for further appearances.

Performers

SpVgg Greuther Fürth have one of the best strikers from the second division last season in Hrgota. The Swede scored 16 goals for the Cloverleaves last term and also provided eight assists. And he is also the top scorer and provider in the Bundesliga for the Green and Whites: The skipper has scored four goals and provided three assists in 13 games. Hrgota’s playing career includes 117 Bundesliga and 63 second division appearances. During the Europa League season of 2014/15, the 28-year-old scored eight goals in ten games for Borussia Mönchengladbach and he also provided two assists. He was directly involved in all three goals for Fürth against Hoffenheim, which should definitely give him an extra boost in confidence.

Problems

The Hoffenheim game again highlights the big problem for Fürth: The defence has yet to live up to Bundesliga standards. "When the defence plays like that then it is not enough," said a disappointed coach Leitl and he added: "If you make so many individual mistakes then you have to live with letting in six goals." Fürth have conceded a total of 39 goals in 13 games. That means the Cloverleaves have by far the most leaky defence in the Bundesliga. One reason for that could be the aforementioned absence of the two regular central defenders Hoogma and Viergever – midfielder Hans Nunoo Sarpei has recently often helped out in that position. Leitl is also hoping, "that our injured players come back soon to give our defence more solidity."

Prediction

Eighteenth place, one point, 12 points adrift from safety – the situation for the Cloverleaves in the battle against relegation has consistently worsened since the start of the season. They scented results against Hertha Berlin (1-2), Bochum (0-1) and Eintracht Frankfurt (1-2) but the Green and Whites ended up empty-handed. The loss of Hoogma and Viergever still carries great weight even though staying up will remain a Herculean task for the newcomers from Franconia with them in the side.

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