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Ermedin Demirović has been in fantastic form for Augsburg this campaign. - © IMAGO/Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON
Ermedin Demirović has been in fantastic form for Augsburg this campaign. - © IMAGO/Frank Hoermann/SVEN SIMON
bundesliga

The rise and rise of Ermedin Demirović, Augsburg's Captain Fantastic

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After several seasons fighting for Bundesliga survival, Augsburg have enjoyed a resurgent campaign this time around and are in with an outside chance of European qualification. Few, if any, of Die Fuggerstädter’s squad have had as big an impact as star striker Ermedin Demirović, who is currently in the form of his life.

Augsburg made it back-to-back victories on Matchday 24 as they inflicted a huge 6-0 defeat on rock-bottom Darmstadt, scoring five times in the opening 30 minutes. As has been the case throughout this term, Demirović was influential, netting a brace himself while also notching an assist.

The Bosnia international’s season tally now stands at 14 goals - an Augsburg top-flight record - and eight assists. Only three players have found the back of the net on more occasions, and just three have created more strikes for their teammates. His combined 23 goal contributions are second only to Bayern Munich star Harry Kane (27 goals, five assists).

The former Freiburg man has played a role in 58.9 percent of Augsburg’s Bundesliga goals – a number not even Kane can match. He enjoyed a solid term last year, scoring eight and creating four more. But, while he had his moments in the Black Forest, he has never previously been so decisive. Where exactly has this improvement come from?

Watch: Highlights of Augsburg's 6-0 win over Darmstadt

Demirović’s career has not been straightforward. After graduating from RB Leipzig’s youth academy, he made the move to Deportivo Alavés – an experience he described as “tough” – where he initially wasn’t allowed to play due to paperwork issues.

Loan spells at Sochaux, Almería and St. Gallen in Switzerland followed, and it was only at the latter, aged 21, that he began to show his potential, notching 14 strikes in 28 Swiss Super League games as his side finished second in the table.

In Freiburg, his next stop, he was often used as a substitute, and while he intermittently popped up with important moments from the bench, he was never able to nail down a starting spot. His last contribution for the Breisgau-Brasilianer was to miss a clear-cut chance and penalty in the shoot-out as Christian Streich’s side lost to Leipzig in the 2021/22 DFB Cup final.

Ermedin Demirović in action for Deportivo Alavés. - Acero

With Freiburg interested in Michael Gregoritsch, Demirovic was used as a sweetener in the summer 2022 deal, and the transfer has proved to be the making of the forward. A promising first season at the WWK Arena followed, but it was arguably former head coach Enrico Maaßen’s decision to appoint him club captain last June, only 12 months after his arrival and with former skipped Jeffrey Gouweleeuw still at the club, that played the biggest role in his improvement.

Demirović has flourished with the increased responsibility, something which must not be taken for granted. Giving him the armband was Maaßen’s greatest Augsburg legacy, and despite the unconventional choice, it was one he had seemingly been sure of for quite some time.

“It’s not for nothing that Demi is captain of this team,” he explained in September 2023, before his dismissal. “Over the last year, I have repeatedly emphasized how many things he manages in the dressing room, how he trains, what kind of energy he brings into the dressing room, on the training pitch and on the playing field.”

Augsburg sporting director Marinko Jurendic backed up those sentiments a few months later saying: “He does a lot for the team not only on the pitch, but also off the pitch. He takes on the necessary responsibility as captain and does it with a lot of joy and a sense of responsibility.”

Of course, it is easy to look at the goals and assists columns and use those stats to quantify Demirovic’s involvement. However, his leadership is clear to see in all parts of his game. Only Felix Uduokhai (212), has won more duels than the Augsburg skipper (209), with both players amongst the top 30 in the league, while the 155.3 miles (250.3 kilometres) he has covered is more than any of his teammates and all but 14 of his German top-flight contemporaries.

So how has Demirović been able to take on a leading role this season? The support of his colleagues, as well as his increased confidence, appear to be crucial. “I’m a worker. The team is playing better right now, which is obviously key. I’ve changed my game to a style where I collect the ball more, which I probably didn’t do that much at the start of last season because I didn’t have the confidence for it,” he told bundesliga.com prior to the narrow 3-2 defeat to Bayern in January.

Ermedin Demirović has led by example throughout the campaign. - IMAGO/Klaus Rainer Krieger

“Now I have the confidence and receive the backing of all the players, the coach, even people in the club offices – you’re even backed by them. And that’s a key point, knowing as a player on the pitch that you can make mistakes. Those are things that are going well. I also lose the ball a lot in games, but I know that they’re all behind me and know the next one will be better, the one after that will be better. I think that’s why things are going so well at the moment."

With 10 games remaining, Augsburg are eight points adrift of the UEFA Europa League spots. Closing that gap will be a challenge, but while Demirovic is in this vein of form, anything is possible.