“It’s time to turn things round,” said FCA CEO Stefan Reuter in reference to FC Augsburg’s record against Bayer 04. Since Augsburg were promoted to the Bundesliga in 2011 there have been 20 meetings with the Werkself – Bayer 04 have not lost once. That run is unique in the history of the Bundesliga. But Reuter could also be referring to the season so far for Augsburg. FCA cannot really be happy with the first two Bundesliga matches. They are the only team in the league without a goal scored so far and the opening match ended with a clear 4-0 defeat at home to Hoffenheim. Nevertheless: Last weekend brought a decent result at Eintracht Frankfurt with the first point picked up in a 0-0 draw. “We’ve taken a step forward,” was the match assessment by coach Markus Weinzierl. “But we know: We have to improve.” Reuter responded to the record against the Werkself: “We have to win.” FCA have managed that once this term: Augsburg beat Greifswalder FC 4-2 in the first round tie in the DFB Cup.
FCA had a number of personnel issues after the Frankfurt game. Two players went off injured – with differing after effects. Midfielder Jan Moravek suffered a serious groin injury and is likely to be sidelined for a while; by contrast, striker Florian Niederlechner was back on the training ground at the start of the week after picking up a cut in the game in Frankfurt and he will be available to face the Werkself. There is a possible problem up front as both Alfred Finnbogason (ankle injury) and Sergio Cordova (muscle problems) have been ruled out recently and it appears they are candidates for the bench at best on Saturday.
Defender Tobias Strobl is definitely ruled out having suffered a ligament injury in the preseason – and the captain and key defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw may also miss out due to a groin problem. As in Frankfurt, Reece Oxford may play at the centre of defence alongside Felix Uduokhai. The Englishman returned in July after a knee operation and was back on song immediately.
Also available again is new signing Arne Maier on loan from Hertha Berlin. After coming on as a sub in the opener against Hoffenheim, the midfielder missed the Frankfurt game due to a cold but is now back on board. It is very possible he may make his first start for Augsburg against the Werkself.
As soon as Maier is fully fit, he will be in the centre of the park as when he led Germany to win the U21 European Championships in the summer. In addition to Maier, Germany’s Euro captain, FCA pulled off another coup on the transfer market by signing Niklas Dorsch, one of the outstanding players at the tournament. Maier and Dorsch could form a new central midfield partnership – with qualities both in attack and defence. As soon as the captain Gouweleeuw returns, Augsburg can then build on a very strong defence with the outstanding keeper of last season Rafal Gikiewicz backing them up.
The fact FCA are the only team in the league yet to score this term is not a complete surprise. Weinzierl’s team have failed to pose a real threat to the opposition nets in 180 minutes. On the first two matchdays, Augsburg had the lowest number of shots on goal (11) in the league and created the least clear-cut chances (1). Of course: Numbers like that are not that conclusive so early in the season but the coach Weinzierl is also aware of the problem and he declared: “We have to be braver.”
The start to the season has not gone to plan but over the long term Augsburg should have enough to stay in the top flight. The squad has been strengthened in the right positions; new signing Dorsch has the potential to have an impact on the team. If he can join up with Maier and produce the goods to pose more of threat in attack then everything should work out for the best in the twelfth year in the Bundesliga.
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Bayer 04 has modernised its media working area in the stands at the BayArena and equipped it with new, multifunctional monitors. The 50 screens will be used for the first time for the fixture against Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 13 in the Bundesliga next Sunday, 3 December (kick-off: 17:30 CET) and offer the media representatives working at the BayArena on matchday numerous possibilities.Show more
Bayer 04 have little time to recover from their 2-0 win away at Häcken in the UEFA Europe League, ensuring progress to the round of 16, before their next challenge up against Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga on Sunday (17:30 CET). At his pre-match press conference on Friday morning, head coach Xabi Alonso spoke about BVB and gave a warning about not losing focus.Show more
Spirits are high at Borussia Dortmund following their impressive display and result away at AC Milan in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday. On Sunday (17:30 CET), they want to keep an impressive week going with another scalp in Leverkusen. Here’s the lowdown on our next opponents.Show more