Buoyed by a Marco Richter-inspired win over Eintracht Frankfurt, Augsburg can take a huge step towards securing their top-flight status against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday (kick-off: 3.30pm CEST/2.30pm BST/9.30am ET).
Augsburg upset the applecart and then some in coach Martin Schmidt's first game as coach following the dismissal of Manuel Baum. Die Fuggerstädter were unrecognisable from the team that lost 3-0 to Nuremberg and 4-0 to Hoffenheim in their previous outings as Richter struck twice in a shock 3-1 win away to top-four contenders Frankfurt. Michael Gregoritsch was also on the scoresheet for the first time in 2019 as Augsburg moved seven points clear of the relegation play-off spot occupied by Stuttgart, and 10 above the automatic drop zone. Philipp Max and Dong-Won Ji were both left out at the Commerzbank-Arena and despite their obvious credentials - Max was the Bundesliga's top assist provider last season and Ji took down Borussia Dortmund earlier in the year - Schmidt isn't expected to tweak his winning formula.
Stuttgart scored a big win against rock-bottom Hannover six weeks ago, but have only taken two points from their five games since. Die Schwaben are only three points better off than 17th-placed Nuremberg following last weekend's 1-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen, and could drop into the automatic relegation zone if results go against them on Matchday 30. The absence of midfield enforcer Santiago Ascacibar won't help their cause. The Argentine has been slapped with a six-week ban following his sending off against Leverkusen, but with Christian Gentner a major doubt, Emiliano Insua could be recalled as part of a reshuffled midfield. Daniel Didavi is set to continue in the No.10 role behind either Nico Gonzalez or six-goal top scorer Mario Gomez.
Watch: Augsburg ended Frankfurt's 11-match unbeaten league run on Matchday 29
- Alfred Finnbogason is Augsburg's top scorer this season on 10 goals, despite scoring in just one of his last 12 appearances (a hat-trick against Mainz on Matchday 20). The Iceland striker is only two short of last term's goal haul, however.
- Gregoritsch, who led the way for Augsburg in terms of goals last season (13), is on four in 27 outings in 2018/19. He ended a 12-match goalless run with his strike against Frankfurt.
- No Augsburg coach has ever won his first two Bundesliga matches, but Schmidt could be the first.
- Markus Weinzierl averaged 1.26 points per game across his 136 Bundesliga matches in charge of Augsburg between August 2012 and May 2016. He has won four and drawn four of 23 at the Stuttgart helm (0.70 points per game).
- Stuttgart veteran Gomez has gone five games without a goal, but has netted seven in nine career meetings with Augsburg.
- Hoffenheim loanee Steven Zuber is Stuttgart's leading marksman this calendar year with five goals in 12 appearances.
Augsburg: Kobel – Schmid, Gouweleeuw, Khedira, Stafylidis – Baier (c) – Hahn, Koo, Gregoritsch, Richter – Finnbogason
Out: Cordoba (groin), Framberger (cruciate ligament), Giefer (ankle), Götze (hip)
Doubtful: Ji (unspecified), Moravek (groin)
Coach: Martin Schmidt
Stuttgart: Zieler – Kabak, Pavard, Kempf – Beck (c), Esswein, Castro, Zuber, Insua – Didavi – Gomez
Out: Ascacibar (suspended), Maffeo (not considered)
Doubtful: Aogo (thigh), Gentner (calf)
Coach: Markus Weinzierl