This coming Sunday pits the two teams against one another again as the Bundesliga returns after the winter break. Fortuna may be in the more secure position in the table and twelve points ahead of their Bavarian opponents, but Augsburg have added some new faces to their squad this January, hoping to provide the boost they need to make a push for survival.
Augsburg’s biggest problem this season has been scoring goals. Sascha Mölders is their top scorer with four, a third of the team’s total league haul. Unsurprisingly, therefore, one of the first moves that new sporting director Stefan Reuter made was to bring in South Korean international forward Ji Dong-Won from English side Sunderland. The hope is that he, and his fit again compatriot Ja-Cheol Koo, can gel quickly to help the team add to their solitary victory this season.
Stability has also been added at the back with the signing of USA defender Michael Parkhurst from Danish side FC Nordsjaelland. The 28-year-old competed in the UEFA Champions League this season and has played 15 times for the United States national team. Having conceded 29 goals this term, the team’s defensive record is by no means the worst in the league, but the signing of Parkhurst will certainly have given the squad a further boost.
Düsseldorf are currently twelve points ahead of Augsburg and, as aforementioned, famously won the last meeting on Matchday 1. Nevertheless, given the unpredictability of Germany’s top flight, Fortuna would be loath to think that their task of surviving has been as good as achieved. Last season, Augsburg were in the same league position they occupy now and went on to stay in the division after an excellent run in the Rückrunde.
That wasn’t lost on head coach Norbert Meier, who also warned in his pre-match press conference that nothing could be read into the two clubs’ respective positions in the table. “The points difference is deceptive”, he said. “Augsburg had a good first half to the season. This will be a close game like we saw in Augsburg, where we managed to take our chances.”
True to form?
Augsburg have been profligate in front of goal this season, while Fortuna have been miserly at the back, conceding just 22 goals. Yet in a new year and boasting some new faces, there is every chance that those two trends take a different direction at the ESPRIT Arena on Sunday evening.