Fürth - Saturday's evening match against Schalke won't be like any other for Greuther Fürth boss Mike Büskens and players Gerald Asamoah and Edu as they take on the club with whom they enjoyed their greatest successes to date.
"Trip down memory lane"
Both Büskens and Asamoah featured in over 250 matches for the Gelsenkirchen side and won the UEFA Cup in 1997, not to mention the 2001 and 2002 DFB Cups. Meanwhile Edu's two goals against Inter Milan contributed to Schalke's progression to the semi-finals of the 2011 Champions League.
"It will be very emotional and feel like a trip down memory lane", says Büskens, who was at the club for 18 years and also led Schalke to a commendable nine victories in 15 games as caretaker coach between 2008 and 2009. "Nevertheless," he said, "I am very keen on winning against Schalke, as much as I wouldn't mind them beating everyone else."
Greuther Fürth gained their first ever three Bundesliga points on Matchday 2 courtesy of 20-year-old Felix Klaus, one of several players in the Franconians' squad with no prior top-flight experience. "We still have to get used to playing at this level," said Büskens. "The game is quicker and also more physical [than in Bundesliga 2]." However, the Düsseldorf-born 44-year-old states he is confident his team will adapt: "We'll give our lads the time they need because we believe in their potential."
Stevens praises Büskens
Büskens, Asamoah and Edu have all played for current Schalke coach Huub Stevens, who is at his second stint at the club after leading the Royal Blues between 1996 and 2002. "I'm really enjoying to see my former players develop," the Dutch trainer said, particularly praising Büskens, who took over at Fürth in December 2008 when the club was 16th in Bundesliga 2: "He's an honest soul and transfers his personality on to his players. I always thought he'd make it as a coach."
Meanwhile, Büskens indicated he might field a defensive side against his former club that finished third last season and have collected four points this season. "We will have to keep it tight at the back", stressed Büskens, highlighting Schalke's individual class: "Schalke have fantastic players on every position."
Injuries for both sides
Newly recruited Dutch attacking midfielder Ibrahim Afellay might make his first-eleven debut in Fürth after coming on late the 3-1 victory over FC Augsburg a day after his arrival from Barcelona. Forward Chinedu Obasi is also likely to return to the squad after missing the last games due to injury problems. Romanian striker Ciprian Marica will not be available, however, after picking up an injury playing for his country.
Fürth will be without striker Djiby Fall, giving Edu the opportunity to start against the club he left just two weeks ago. Former Germany international Asamoah, who scored 44 goals for Schalke, is also eligible to come on against the club that he says will always be in his heart.
To add a little more grandeur to the occasion, Greuther Fürth's most famous fan, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, will be in the stands for Saturday's match. Kissinger was born in Fürth and is reported to already have supported the club as a child. The 89-year-old is therefore likely to remember the last of Fürth's three German championships in 1929 (the others being 1914 and 1926).
Fürth: Grün - Nehrig, Kleine, Mavraj, Schmidtgal - Klaus, Fürstner, Pekovic, Prib - Edu, Sararer
Schalke: Unnerstall - Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Fuchs - Neustädter, Holtby - Farfan, Afellay, Draxler - Huntelaar