The turning of the tide at FC Augsburg is continuing under trainer Enrico Maaßen and they are looking for a fourth consecutive Bundesliga win this weekend as they entertain VfL Wolfsburg at the WWK Arena. After losing four of their opening five games this season the tide has certainly turned for the Fuggerstädter.
After wins over Werder Bremen and Bayern, Augsburg added another three points last week against Schalke showing great character to beat the Königsblauen with a late goal despite being down to ten men following the sending off of Mergim Berisha.
Augsburg have climbed to tenth in the table level on points with Borussia Mönchengladbach and Werder Bremen and will want to see their positive run of results continue against a Wolfsburg side struggling at the wrong end of the table (as Augsburg were after the first five games).
A 3-2 home win last time out against fellow strugglers VfB Stuttgart was the second of the season for die Wölfe and there are signs that their awful start to the season may be improving slightly. It took a last-minute goal from Yannick Gerhardt to take all three points, but nobody at the Volkswagen Arena was complaining.
There is still a lot of work to do, but at least Wolfsburg are starting to pick up points. Matches against Augsburg on paper are the ones they will be targeting, but the recent upturn in the home sides’ form and fortunes makes this outing all the more of a challenge.
Andre Hahn, the scorer of the winner last week against Schalke, suffered a serious cartilage injury at the Veltins Arena and requires surgery which will keep him out for months. Mergim Berisha’s red card means he is suspended for the visit of Wolfsburg. Fredrik Jensen and Ruben Vargas look likely to deputise.
Reece Oxford, Felix Uduokhai, Niklas Dorsch, Tobias Strobl and Noah Sarenren Bazee are all longer-term absentees with injury.
Possible line-up: Gikiewicz, Gumny, Bauer, Gouweleeuw, Iago, Gruezo, Rexhbecaj, Vargas, Jensen, Niederlechner, Demirovic
Lukas Nmecha is close to returning following the knee injury picked up on international duty with Germany. If he can persuade Nico Kovac of his full fitness, he could come back in with Omar Marmoush dropping to the bench dspite his goal last week. Alternatively, the Iranian could move to the wide left position in place of Jakub Kaminski.
Possible line-up: Casteels, Baku, Lacroix, van de Ven, Otavio, Arnold, Svanberg, Gerhardt, Wimmer, Kaminski, Marmoush
What they’re saying:
Enrico Maaßen: “The attitude we went into the game with [vs Schalke] from the very start, as well as the cohesion we showed – even coming back despite being a man down at Schalke – is what we take from those last games.
“Nothing is better than a win. Every win brings conviction and self-confidence, the boys are growing as a unit and everyone wants it to continue this way. You’ve seen us play well plenty of times, but then falter in the final third. We’ve got to continue to work in all areas, keep our opponents busy, create dangerous situations, battle against challenges, and get the fans on our side. That’s why we’re training hard.
“Wolfsburg have won two of their last three, have a lot of pace up top and plenty of experience. But that is the case with many teams. We need to play our own game and show our energy, then we can perform well against Wolfsburg.
“The support we have received in the last few games was really, really good – it would be amazing to have the stadium full once again this weekend.”
Nico Kovac: “Augsburg shows how fast things can go in the Bundesliga. FCA didn’t start well either, but they managed to win the last three games thanks to good defence, certainly the necessary luck, but also through quality. Now the team has a run. That’s where we want to go too. And if we want that, then we have to get something in Augsburg.
“I expect a very physical game. Augsburg is a team that plays very straight forward and is very aggressive. Everyone who runs up against them has to counter it. We’ll be faced with a really difficult task tomorrow. Nevertheless, I hope and believe that we have a good chance of taking something from the game Because what I saw last time, against Stuttgart and also in training, makes me confident.”
02.10.22 Schalke (a) 2-3 W (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 Bayern Munich (h) 1-0 W (Bundesliga)
09.09.22 Werder Bremen (a) 0-1 W (Bundesliga)
04.09.22 Hertha Berlin (h) 0-2 L (Bundesliga)
27.08.22 Hoffenheim (a) 1-0 L (Bundesliga)
01.10.22 VfB Stuttgart (h) 3-2 W (Bundesliga)
18.09.22 Union Berlin (a) 2-0 L (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Eintracht Frankfurt (a) 0-1 W (Bundesliga)
03.09.22 Köln (h) 2-4 L (Bundesliga)
27.08.22 RB Leipzig (a) 2-0 L (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture at the WWK Arena last season came on matchday 28 when Augsburg beat Wolfsburg 3-0 in their basement battle to avoid relegation. The hosts made a blitz start with a goal from Iago in the first minute. Second half goals from Florian Niederlechner and Mads Pedersen made sure of the vital points.
Players to watch:
The absence of Mergim Berisha will add more responsibility to Ermedin Demirovic in attack. The swap deal with Freiburg has paid off, but at the moment Michael Gregoritsch has scored more goals over in Breigau. Demirovic will want to even things up against Wolfsburg.
Yannick Gerhardt made his first appearance of the season against Stuttgart following a knee injury and scored the winning goal in stoppage time to cap a fine return. He and Nico Kovac will want to see another top performance from the 28-year-old midfielder against Augsburg.