Munich - Away at FC Bayern Munich to start off the second half of the season is a difficult fixture no matter what team you are. If you’re Greuther Fürth, however, it seems like an impossible task.
Seventeen places and 31 points separate Bayern - top of the league with a nine-point cushion - and Fürth, who currently prop up the table, making this fixture look like a home banker. However, nobody should underestimate the Bundesliga’s ability to throw up a surprise result.
The two sides have markedly different ambitions this season, with the Reds chasing the Bundesliga title and the Clover Leaves hoping merely to survive in the top flight. Wins are what the visitors desperately need if they aren’t to succumb to relegation in their debut season in the Bundesliga, but seldom have Bayern been so unforgivingly strong as this season.
The Reds scored 44 goals - four times as many as their Bavarian neighbours - and conceded just seven, a quarter of the total shipped by Fürth in the Hinrunde. Mike Büskens’ side must also attempt to stop a team that was a penalty shoot-out away from becoming champions of Europe a little over six months ago and a against a squad with 897 international caps combined.
Fürth’s answer to Guardiola
Bayern have also just announced the summer arrival of the world’s most desired coach, Pep Guardiola, a coup that has the already hungry Bayern players licking their lips in anticipation. “He has been the [best] coach in the last three or four years”, said captain Philipp Lahm, to which €40 million purchase and record signing Javi Martinez added, “His signing is a good message for me, for the team and for the Bundesliga as a whole.”
The winter could hardly have been more different for Fürth. While Bayern announced the signing of a two-time Champions League-winning coach, Fürth’s answer to being bottom of the table was to part with €1.3 million - their record purchase - for Bosnian striker Nikola Djurdjic from Swedish club FK Haugesund. After facing Bayern, they then have to start winning games at the modest Trolli Arena if they are to avoid a repeat of Tasmania Berlin’s 48-year record of 15 matches without a home win to give themselves a fighting chance of beating the drop.
Still, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Fürth are attempting an endeavour not without precedent this weekend. In the first-ever Bundesliga campaign, 1. FC Saarbrücken, bottom of the table, went to first-placed 1. FC Köln and won 3-1.
Ultimately, Köln still went on to become Bundesliga champions and Saarbrücken to be relegated, but in the Bundesliga’s 50th campaign, Clover Leaf fans will continue to believe that a great escape is still possible for their club in 2013.