Augsburg face impossible Borussia Dortmund task

Augsburg face impossible Borussia Dortmund task

Manuel Veth –

Augsburg vs Dortmund – Friday, March 1, 19:30GMT/20:30CET – WWK Arena, Augsburg, Germany

Augsburg vs Dortmund will take place at the WWK arena in Augsburg. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Augsburg vs Dortmund will take place at the WWK arena in Augsburg. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Often ranked among the number one relegation candidates it somewhat of a miracle that Augsburg have played eight seasons in a row in the Bundesliga. A clever transfer strategy, in large parts led by sporting director Stefan Reuter, has meant that the Fuggerstädter have for the most part of that eight-year stretch stayed away from relegation trouble.

This year, however, has been different. Augsburg are 15th, and only the poor runs of three teams below them has meant that Augsburg, thus far, are still above the dropzone. Nürnberg, Hannover and Stuttgart have done Augsburg a favour by consistently dropping points.

Whether that will remain the case, however, is doubtful. Not since the introduction of the three-point system in the Bundesliga for the 1995/96 season did a team ranked 15th at this stage of the season have as few points as Augsburg (18). “We have a good squad, but we have struggled with injuries,” Reuter explained this week.

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As a result, Reuter has defended head coach Manuel Baum. Nonetheless, there are rumours that assistant coach, and former national team keeper, Jens Lehmann was signed this winter with a medium-term outlook of having him take over from Baum.

Should Augsburg drop into the dropzone on the weekend, Stefan Reuter might be forced to replace Manuel Baum with Jens Lehmann. Given that Augsburg face a Borussia Dortmund side that have never lost in Augsburg it is a scenario that is anything but unrealistic.

Furthermore, Borussia Dortmund ended their mini-crisis on Sunday with an impressive 3-2 victory over a Bayer Leverkusen side that under former BVB head coach Peter Bosz had been on the up. Those three points were invaluable for Dortmund as Bayern had closed the gap to Dortmund with a 1-0 victory over Hertha on Saturday.

The victory over Leverkusen once again opened the gap to three points. But Dortmund want to build on the lead ahead of the meeting between Bayern and BVB at the Allianz Arena on April 6. In order to do just that Dortmund can once again rely on star Marco Reus, who will be back in the side on Friday. Reus will be crucial for Dortmund as the forward is not just an important goal producer but also a leader on the pitch.

Another crucial aspect will be set pieces. Dortmund have conceded 36% of their goals from set pieces this season, including Bayer’s second goal on Sunday. “That we are discussing those situations is clear,” Michael Zorc told the media this week. After all three out of the last four goals were conceded from set pieces and were a big part of why Dortmund struggled in the league in recent weeks.

It is Dortmund’s biggest weakness at the moment and perhaps Augsburg’s only hope because overall Dortmund will be big favourites on Friday. After all, Augsburg have not won in 16 games on a Friday, a trend that is unlikely to end when Dortmund come to town.

Augsburg vs Dortmund – Players to look out for:

Sergio Córdova #21 – Augsburg

One of Augsburg’s most significant problems this season have been injuries. In particular, injuries to Icelandic striker Alfred Finnbogason and his replacement Julian Schieber have hit the club hard. But it also has allowed young Venezuelan striker Sergio Córdova to gain more playing time in recent weeks. The 21-year-old, who joined Augsburg from Caracas FC in the summer of 2017 started the last two matches for Augsburg and will once again be in the starting XI this Friday. But to truly replace Finnbogason and Schieber Córdova needs to score goals — which he has only managed on two occasions this season — ideally already on Friday against Borussia Dortmund.

Sergio Cordova of Augsburg looks on during the Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and VfL Wolfsburg at WWK-Arena on December 23, 2018 in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Sergio Cordova of Augsburg looks on during the Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and VfL Wolfsburg at WWK-Arena on December 23, 2018 in Augsburg, Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Widmann/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Mario Götze #10 – Borussia Dortmund

Mario Götze made the Futbolgrad Network Bundesliga team of the week on matchday 23. Although a playmaker by trade Götze, who struggled with a metabolic condition during the 2016/17 season is slowly becoming once again the player that made him one of the most exciting talents in the world. In fact, it is sometimes important to remember that Götze is still only 26 and despite his young age has been part of the football business for a long time. Furthermore, under Lucien Favre, he has somewhat re-invented himself as a number 9 that can both hold the ball but also score important goals — like this Sunday against Leverkusen. “Mario has consistently improved,” Zorc said this week. “When you need a playmaking number 9, to create depth on the pitch, to drop deep in midfield then I am happy with the role,” Götze explained this week. The striker, in fact, seems to be made for the role and is now ahead in the pecking order of Spanish striker Paco Alcacer. The reason for that is simple Götze not only works hard, he has run 12.47km per game on average this season but has also seen his scorer points tick up by collecting a scorer point every 111 minutes (four goals and four assists this season).

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Borussia Dortmund - Mario Gotze controls the ball at the Signal Iduna Park

Mario Götze of Dortmund runs with the ball during the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Hertha BSC at Signal Iduna Park on October 27, 2018 in Dortmund, Germany. The match between Dortmund and Berlin ended 2-2. (Photo by Christof Koepsel/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Augsburg vs Dortmund – Match Stats

  • Augsburg have given up 17 points after taking a lead this season.
  • Borussia Dortmund have collected 13 points from games where they conceded first.
  • Dan-Axel Zagadou became Dortmund’s 18th goalscorer this season. In the history only two clubs had more different scorers during one season: Bayern had 19 scorers in 2017/18 and Werder Bremen had 20 in 2007/08.
  • Augsburg have never beaten Dortmund at home. Their overall record against Dortmund: W0 D2 L5

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Augsburg vs Dortmund – 0-3

Augsburg vs Dortmund – Lineups

FC Augsburg:

Formation: 3-4-1-2

Kobel – Danso, Khedira, Stafylidis – Schmid, Koo, Baier, Max – Ji – Gregoritsch, Cordova

Head Coach: Manuel Baum

Borussia Dortmund:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Bürki – Hakimi, Akanji, Zagadou, Diallo – Witsel, Delaney – Sancho, Reus, Guerreiro – Götze

Head Coach: Lucien Favre

Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others contributes to and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada.  Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.