Augsburg “not the ideal opposition” to return to action against
Markus Gisdol on…
Augsburg are a good team and we respect them. They are very compact and are extremely strong at home. They're definitely not the ideal opposition for the first game after the winter break.
Apart from Niklas Süle (out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament tear) and Jin-Su Kim (Asian Cup), everyone else is available.
…the current situation:
I'm calm going into the second half of the season. We know exactly what we've done during the winter break. We want to keep moving forward with our development. It requires hard work but I'm not expecting it to happen straight away. The other teams certainly won't get any worse either. The Bundesliga is very tight at the moment and every game is close.
It's strange to start with three games in a week. You have to take that into account in your training and you can't feel your way into the second half of the season as usual. It will go from 0 to 100 very quickly.
We're very happy with our striker situation. Anthony Modeste, Adam Szalai and Sven Schipplock were all very valuable to us in the first half of the season. Anthony and Adam are currently in a better physical state than Sven as he missed a big part of the preparations. It's extremely important for us to be able to use fresh players each week. The striker is the first line of defence and he has to work extremely hard chasing the ball in order to win it back.
The upcoming game:
The overall head-to-head record in the Bundesliga is just about in TSG's favour. We have won three, drawn two and lost two of the seven meetings with Augsburg, while the last two games against Markus Weinzierl's side both ended in 2-0 victories, although both were at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena. The two match-ups prior to that resulted in defeat, each time in Augsburg. Fun fact: TSG inflicted FCA's first defeat in their Bundesliga history – it came on matchday 3 of the 2011/12 season, with Ryan Babel and Sejad Salihovic scoring the goals that day.
The opponents' form:
It's very difficult to predict what will happen with Augsburg. FCA played three friendlies during the winter break. They won two of them, but lost the other to second-division side 1. FC Kaiserslautern. It's unclear as to whether new signing Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will come into Markus Weinzierl's starting line-up or not, but his team, who currently sit sixth after 17 games, will provide a tough test for Markus Gisdol's men.
The key battles:
FCA don't have any star players but they function incredibly well as a collective unit, so it will be TSG's task to call on all their technical ability, be physically strong in every area of the pitch and also try to take the Augsburg crowd out of the game. The SGL Arena can become a madhouse when the fans see their team are playing well. TSG already demonstrated how you can be successful against FCA on matchday 1 this season.