Both ends of the Bundesliga table are in the spotlight, as Frankfurt clash with Augsburg on Sunday afternoon.
The only consistant aspect of Augsburg’s season so far has been their inconsistency. From the highs of beating Bayern and winning with a superb performance in Köln to the lows of thrashings at Mainz and Freiburg. One can be hard-pressed to predict how they will fare from one game to the next.
The table is certainly not great viewing for fans of the ‘Fuggerstadter’. Currently sitting 16th on 18 points, there is a host of sides battling for safety towards the bottom end. Just three points separate Wolfsburg in 14th and Bielefeld in 17th. Augsburg were showing some positive signs towards the end of the ‘hinrunde’, suffering just one defeat against Bochum in their last six games of the year. But the tame defeat at Hoffenheim last week was rather disappointing.
The recent signing of American whizz-kid Ricardo Pepi has boosted expectations in a big way. The 19-year-old striker made his debut in last weeks defeat, replacing Andi Zeqiri on the hour-mark. They will certainly need his imput of goals, especially when you consider strikers Niederlechner and Gregoritsch topscore with a measly three goals. Coach Markus Weinzierl likes to play with a traditional 4-4-2 formation, and he knows the levels that his team need to reach if they are to move upwards in the table, stating:
“We have to perform like we did against Bayern or Stuttgart again – ideally every week. That is why we need every single player and we are challenged to bring our quality into the game in the last third.”
In the case of Frankfurt, momentum is certainly building for Oliver Glasner’s side. It’s true that last weeks defeat to Dortmund was a huge blow to morale. But when you consider that they took just five points from their opening six games, (a run that had Glasner under huge pressure at the time), they have recovered to sit just three points behind Freiburg in the Champions League spots. Like Augsburg, they also defeated Bayern, winning 2-1 at the Allianz Arena in October.
If it’s entertainment and goals that you are after, watching ‘Die Adler’ is just the tonic. There have been an incredible 23 goals in their last five games, with Glasner favouring an attacking 3-4-2-1 formation. Colombian striker Rafael Santos Borre has been on fire of late, scoring four and assisting three in his last five games. Danish midfielder Jesper Lindstrøm has also impressed since his signing from Brondby, chipping in with four goals from midfield. Add to that the talents of mercurial Japanese playmaker Daichi Kamada and outstanding Serbian winger Filip Kostic, and you can see why they are such an attacking threat.
However, Glasner is taking nothing for granted and is aware of the strengths that Augsburg possess, admitting:
“Augsburg have got a lot of big strikers who can always win flick-ons, and wingers who attack the spaces at speed. We have great respect, but clearly we want to win. That requires a good performance”.
Unfortunately for Frankfurt, they will be without Filip Kostic and first-choice goalkeeper Kevin Trapp after it was announced late on Friday evening that the duo have tested positive for COVID-19.
Recent results between the sides have gone in favour of the visitors. Frankfurt have won three out of their last four meetings, not conceding in any of them. The hosts did however earn a point at Deutsche Bank Park back in August.