Belek/Paderborn - It has been anything but a smooth winter for SC Paderborn, who have had more than their share of injury problems to contend with during their first winter training camp as a Bundesliga club.
Moving on defiantly
Getting any form of momentum together proved nigh on impossible for Andre Breitenreiter, who took the East Westphalians to Belek in Turkey only to find his team beset by rotten luck.
"We've got to look at how we can strengthen because the personnel situation has become difficult, thanks to these unfortunate injuries," said Breitenreiter, after losing to a fractured foot and with an Achilles tendon problem.
However, one of the leitmotivs of Paderborn's first season in the top flight of German football has been defiance. Indeed, the newcomers seem to be at their best when faced with adversity, and that is precisely how they will proceed into the second half of the season.
Upsetting the odds
"We've got to carry on working hard and stay hungry," Breitenreiter said. "We've now lost our element of surprise so we need at least the same attitude we had in the first half of the season. If we can summon all of our energy and focus fully on our strengths, then we do have a realistic chance of staying up."
Few, if anybody, would have predicted that at the start of the season. Paderborn were being depicted as the lambs to the slaughter; the next SpVgg Greuther Fürth or Eintracht Braunschweig, who both returned to the second tier as quickly as they came up. As the likes of Hamburger SV, Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund discovered to their detriment, their was little lamb-like about Paderborn's first four months among the elite.
Ready for battle
Refining what worked so well was Breitenreiter's priority in Belek. "We're putting in lots of crosses and getting in lots of shots compared to other teams, but we need a better return from them," said the 41-year-old. A 1-0 win over Erzgebirge Aue and 1-1 draw with Bundesliga 2 high-flyers SV Darmstadt 98 will be regarded as acceptable friendly results, but as the coach said, every team will now know what they are up against when they face SCP.
In the cut and thrust business of the Bundesliga, the final four months are about survival of the fittest, and with luck not helping Breitenreiter in that area this winter, he will once again rely on his side's steadfast application. That, as has been evidenced already this season, is one thing Paderborn boast in abundance.