'Two teams in good shape'

Bundesliga matchday 31 is next up. The Werkself kick it off with an away game at the reinvigorated FC Augsburg on Friday night (20.30 CET, live text commentary and web radio in German at Bayer 04 will be keen to lead the way at the WWK Arena. "If we can get a good result then that may increase the pressure on our rivals. But the most important thing once again is for us to win," said Peter Bosz at the pre-match press conference on Thursday morning.

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The current situation: The Werkself are currently seventh in the table ahead of matchday 31 with a two-point lead and that position would guarantee Europa League football next season thanks to Werder Bremen being knocked out of the DFB Cup yesterday. The gap to the Champions League places is five points. However, Peter Bosz continues to refuse to get involved in guessing games around the final outcome of Bundesliga season number 56. "I always take it game by game and it would be strange for me to talk about four games from now. We want to win against Augsburg. That's what is occupying us at the moment and we're concentrating on that. And I believe that's the only thing that will help us," said the Werkself head coach. Nevertheless, the 55-year-old Dutchman made it clear: "At the end of the day, we want to go as far as we can – and the Champions League is a different level from the Europa League."

The head coach on the game: "Two teams face each other and both are in good shape," said Peter Bosz. "We've won two games in succession. That will give the team confidence. But you can say the same of Augsburg – they've also won twice." The Bayer 04 squad will head off to Augsburg on Friday afternoon with much courage but also respect. After the two most recent wins for the Bavarians (with a goal difference of nine to one) the 55-year-old Dutchman endeavoured to provide an assessment: "Every game has its own story. It could be that Stuttgart (a 6-0 defeat, ed.) were not in the best shape but you still have to score the six goals. Augsburg did that. And in the match before at Eintracht Frankfurt (3-1, ed.), Frankfurt suffered a red card early on in the game. But again you have to win a game like that…" Thanks to the last six points under their new coach Martin Schmidt, Augsburg (ten points above the play-off spot) now look safe and can afford to play in a more relaxed manner. "We know what we're going to face. We're prepared for that," said Bosz who is now looking for a third win on the bounce with his players following the 1-0 victory over Stuttgart and the 2-0 win against Nürnberg. "We know there are still a lot of things in our game we can do better and that we have to do better – we're self-critical in that respect. You primarily gain confidence when you pick up points. But we're not just trying to pick up points: We want to play attacking football, we want to apply pressure – we have a way of playing that isn't easy. But when it works, that is when we often have the ball and keep the opposition running then that gives us confidence," explained Bosz.

Team news: As in the past few weeks, Peter Bosz will again have to manage without Karim Bellarabi and Joel Pohjanpalo at Augsburg with long-term injuries ruling them out for the rest of the season. They are joined by Leon Bailey who suffered a hamstring injury in last Saturday’s 2-0 home win against FC Nürnberg, which also puts him on the sidelines. Otherwise the Werkself head coach as all the other players to choose from.

The referee: Frank Willenborg is in charge of the match at the WWK Arena in Augsburg. This will be the first time this season the 40-year-old referee from Osnabrück has officiated a game involving the Werkself. In the seasons before, the secondary school teacher (with a total of 29 Bundesliga games) refereed three Bayer 04 league games with the most recent being last season's 0-0 draw at home to the next opponents FC Augsburg. Frank Willenborg will be assisted on Friday night by Holger Henschel and Markus Sinn and Tobias Reichel is the fourth official. The video referees in Cologne are Tobias Welz and Thorben Siewer.

The previous meeting: With a win against Stuttgart and a draw against Nürnberg behind them, the Werkself went into matchday 14 eleventh in the table. And the target was clear: The third home win of the season was to be clocked up against Augsburg then 14th in the table. Given the rather unfortunate starts the season there was limited confidence in both teams but the Werkself made the better start and dominated proceedings for much of the game. The failing for the Black and Reds on that Saturday afternoon was once again converting chances – and that meant the game remained wide open until the closing stages. On 75 minutes, the substitute Lucas Alario showed what he could do when he headed a cross from the impressive skipper Lars Bender goalwards in the opposite direction of the FCA keeper Andreas Luthe to give the Werkself a 1-0 lead. The visitors then upped their game – the Black and Reds had their hands full trying to prevent an equaliser and were lucky that Augsburg's Dong-Won Ji only hit the bar with his shot on 81 minutes. The Werkself succeeded on holding on to the lead and, with the support of the fans, secured three points.


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