Augsburg away – football back in the spotlight

Augsburg vs Hoffenheim – the duel of the Bundesliga's two youngest clubs and the first time the two sides have met in the top flight. But whilst that is a neat subplot to the game, the real talking point will be the football. The match kicks off on Saturday at 3.30 in the SGL Arena.

Manager Holger Stanislawski is expecting of Augsburg an ‘euphoric team, against whom it will be difficult to take three points off.' Nevertheless that is the aim. In order to do this, ‘Stani' wants to build on the performances of the last two games. He will be challenging his team to give ‘the same effort and willingness to run as they showed against Dortmund.'

When asked about his formation and line-up, the man from Hamburg was tight-lipped as usual. He did however make it clear that, even at this late stage, every player in his squad still had a chance of making the team. He cited Dominik Kaiser as an example. Now accepted as a keen learner and hard worker, Kaiser is now able to challenge for selection in midfield, a goal he pursues with a lot of ambition, and to the great pleasure of his manager.

Praise for Salihovic

Sejad Salihovic has also made the manager happy, not least because of his superb free-kick last Saturday which helped defeat champions Borussia Dortmund. ‘Sali' apparently practises these free-kicks very often. They are his weapon. But in his overall game as well Salihovic is also ‘keen and hard-working', says Stanislawski. The goalscorer himself is happy to receive such praise, but emphasises that hard work is behind it. Whenever he is ‘relaxed and focused', he adapts his personal exercises to team training. That has possibly been less in evidence in the last few weeks, except for his preparation for the Dortmund game where he worked extremely hard in training.

Progress on the injury front

Friday's training session will show if changes in personnel will need to be made. Andreas Ibertsberger, for example, will likely play no part. Instead he'll be brought back to fitness and back into the squad after he's completed his pre-training recovery exercises. Otherwise, Hoffenheim's injury list remains unchanged: Boris Vukcevic, Gyfi Sigurdsson, Tobias Weis, Vedad Ibisevic and Matthias Jaissle are all on the road to recovery but not yet fit enough to be picked in the squad.

Facts and Stats

Between 2002 and 2006 the teams met one another in the Third Division and, later, twice in the Bundesliga 2. Augsburg have had the better record in these meetings , having won six matches out of eleven. And the Bavarian new boys have so far acquitted themselves well in the season's first two matches. A 2-2 draw with SC Freiburg was followed by a creditable 1-1 result away at 1.FC Kaiserslautern. They have two points and three goals, all of them scored by 26-year-old striker Sascha Mölders. He is currently level with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as the league's top scorer.

Match facts and statistics »

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