Nuremberg - It is the oldest and most frequently contested derby in German football, albeit never in the Bundesliga before this season. It is also all but certain to be missing from the top-flight landscape for another year at least, as 1. FC Nuremberg head to Greuther Fürth on Sunday (kick-off 17:30 CEST) knowing they can effectively send their near-neighbours back down to Bundesliga 2.
The 256th battle between the Franconian rivals could indeed be the last for some time with only a miracle able to save Fürth in the event of their 19th defeat of the season.
1902 saw the two clubs lock horns for the first time, with Nuremberg running out 15-0 winners. Last November, they finally got to meet for the first time in the Bundesliga. There was nothing between them in a scrappy 0-0 draw, a repeat of which would do neither side any particular favours in the reverse fixture at the Grundig Stadion.
“We're the favourites and we're at home, so we’ve got to fulfil that role,” said Nuremberg coach Michael Wiesinger, who knows himself what it is like to take to the field for such a derby encounter. “I had one season as a player when I think we played four derbies, it was almost an overdose,” he added. “But the atmosphere was always special. You could tell how important this game is for the whole region.”
It is more than just important for Fürth, whose maiden season in the top flight would be only mathematically still alive in the event of a defeat. With 12 points still to make up on FC Augsburg in 16th place, and a significantly inferior goal difference, a win would just about keep any flickering hope of survival alive. Pride, first and foremost, is what Sunday evening’s game is all about.
“We have one aim, and that is to win the derby,” said coach Frank Kramer. “To do that, we’ve got to fight with everything we have in our tanks. The mere thought of the derby should be enough for us to play a good game.” The Clover Leaves may have to do that without Heinrich Schmidtgal, who has a muscular injury, but Mergim Mavraj and Sercan Sararer should be fit.
No complacency on the part of the hosts
Timm Klose is Wiesinger’s only real injury doubt, whereas the Nuremberg tactician is in no two minds as to what to expect from his side’s opponents. “The team coming here to Nuremberg are not a team with only 15 points, but rather one who have picked up 11 points on their travels, and who have often only lost because of some slight detail” he said. “We must not under-estimate them.”
Slight details may make the difference on Sunday as well, such is the balanced and unpredictable tradition of the Bundesliga, a league where nothing can be taken for granted. Throw in two local sides whose first meeting dates back 111 years, and you have the recipe for an intriguing finish to Matchday 30.
Nuremberg: Schäfer - Balitsch, Nilsson, Klose, Plattenhardt - Simons - Chandler, Kiyotake, Feulner, Esswein - Pekhart
Fürth: Hesl - Zimmermann, Mavraj, Sobiech, Baba - Klaus, Fürstner, Petsos, Prib - Djurdjic, Sararer