Football

Unfancied and retro Augsburg proceed to prosper within the Bundesliga towards all odds

College students of European historical past might be acquainted with the Augsburg Confession of 1530, some of the vital paperwork of the Protestant Reformation that swept by swathes of the continent on the time. Properly, I am right here to make my very own Augsburg Confession, which has nothing to do with faith, aside from maybe spreading the gospel in regards to the native Bundesliga crew from that nice Bavarian metropolis.

Fairly merely, I have to cease underestimating the Fuggerstaeder, as they’re affectionately recognized. This nickname refers back to the rich Fugger household who made their cash in weaving, merchandise and silver mining however are maybe greatest remembered for in 1516 creating the Fuggerei, the world’s oldest social housing advanced, nonetheless in use in a walled enclave inside the metropolis limits.

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FC Augsburg have a suitably right down to earth high quality about them, residing in modest environment in comparison with Bayern, Borussia Dortmund and their opponents on Saturday, fellow-table toppers, RB Leipzig (Stream live at 9.30 a.m. ET on ESPN+). However FCA, for all their humility, are one of many Bundesliga’s nice achievers of latest years.

Achievement is available in many varieties and, with gallows humour in full view, when the membership secured a 10th straight 12 months within the Bundesliga again in June, the gamers celebrated by donning T-shirts displaying “La Decima” — a take-off of Real Madrid‘s 10th Champions League success in 2014. When, towards all odds, Augsburg made it to the Bundesliga for the primary time in 2011, expectations had been low however they’ve regularly discovered methods to prosper due to intelligent cash and personnel administration in addition to resourceful soccer. The important thing figures within the membership’s unlikely success, staying up 12 months in 12 months out, are simple to determine.

Below Markus Weinzierl’s astute teaching, Augsburg completed eighth in 2013-14 after which a surprising fifth the next season, securing a Europa League place and finally a pair of close-run knockout-stage conferences with Liverpool. Sadly for FCA, Weinzierl left in 2016 for the attract of a much bigger stage with Schalke.

However the actual rock has been 1990 World Cup winner, Stefan Reuter, who spent final weekend in Italy celebrating that nationwide crew success together with his erstwhile comrades. Reuter, Augsburg’s diligent common supervisor, can replicate on a job very effectively finished in almost eight years operating the Fuggerstaeder.

In Reuter’s early days with the membership, he was refreshingly informed by then-president Walter Seinsch to not fear about relegation. There was no strain and it was inevitable they might go down at some stage. But since successful promotion, they’ve all the time achieved the Klassenerhalt (preservation of standing). Granted, shut shaves with the drop final season and the one earlier than has been the story for Reuter and his workers. However in every case, he has had the braveness to make a daring teaching change with the marketing campaign ebbing away: changing Manuel Baum with Martin Schmidt in April 2019, after which Schmidt with Heiko Herrlich this previous March simply earlier than the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Herrlich made headlines by missing the club’s first game after the enforced two-month shutdown as a result of a misguided go to to a grocery store when gamers and workers had been meant to be in a quarantine camp. However the likeable coach, who received the Champions League as a participant with Dortmund in 1997, received his crew sufficiently organised to make sure a powerful sufficient end and Bundesliga survival.

Earlier than the membership’s final sport, a 0-Zero draw at Wolfsburg, Augsburg introduced that Herrlich could be absent from the technical space as a result of a collapsed lung. After 11 days of hospital care, together with an operation, Herrlich has been given permission by medical doctors to renew his duties this weekend though he has promised to not shout as loudly as ordinary.

His gamers have made loads of noise to be truthful, displaying an unconditional dedication to watertight defending mixed with a scientific means to transform the comparatively few possibilities that come Augsburg’s means. Possession with out that means is just not for FCA; in two of their three matches, membership has had lower than 37% of the ball.

Oh, and these guys can work and run arduous! They cowl extra floor then anybody within the Bundesliga, recording remarkably constant numbers between 122-124 complete kilometres in each match this season. You realize what you are getting with Augsburg, however are you able to beat them?

Within the wins towards Union and Dortmund, they rode their luck at occasions however saved errors to an absolute minimal. Equally, within the 0-Zero draw at Wolfsburg, it was once more backs to the wall however an internal confidence inside the crew noticed them achieve a suitable level.

Continuity of choice has been essential too, beginning with the identical goalkeeper and again 4 in each match. The inspirational Rafal Gikiewicz between the posts, ably supported by Raphael Framberger, Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, Felix Uduokhai and Iago. Centre-back Uduokhai, who scored the opener towards BVB, has been the perfect of a really in a position bunch and, at 23, you simply really feel he is with the precise membership to push his profession on to the subsequent stage.

Tactically there aren’t any frills. It is an quaint 4-4-2 with everybody figuring out his duty. The addition of Daniel Caligiuri from Schalke has given Augsburg a wily fox of a footballer who stays one of many most interesting dead-ball deliverers within the league at 32.

FC Augsburg with seven factors from three matches are off to their greatest ever Bundesliga begin. Will the run proceed within the Saturday summit assembly with slick Leipzig? It should be pleasant discovering out.

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