The new 2. Bundesliga season continues this afternoon with one of the division’s former East German sides coming up against a club who, as recently as six years ago, reached the last 16 stage of the UEFA Cup. But you’re only as good as your last result, so the cliché goes, and if we apply that unwritten rule to league placings, then the team which represents the city of Aue (population 18,000) currently has the higher standing in German football. Whereas Aachen and their leaky defence finished in 10th place at the end of 2010/11, just as close to bottom side Arminia Bielefeld as they were to champions Hertha Berlin, today’s hosts finished in 5th spot. Nevertheless, Rico Schmitt’s side weren’t always the best side to watch, with few goals going in at either end. Peter Hyballa’s visitors, on the other hand, took a more liberal approach to defending, but perhaps as expected from a coach who joined Aachen from the BVB youth set-up, the side could be quite exciting and very positive in attack.
Transfer activity has been thin on the ground in Aue, but that of course means that last season’s squad has been kept together; the only man of note leaving being squad player Patrick Milchraum (Karlsruher SC). Aachen, however, have been extremely busy, and have built up a squad that could see them among the promotion contenders come March or April time. Boy Waterman, Reinhold Yabo, Marco Stiepermann and Bas Sibum are just a handful of the players signed up for Hyballa’s cause, although how much the club suffers for the loss of players such as Zoltán Stieber (Mainz) and Mark Hoeger (Schalke), who provided a gargantuan 36 goals and assists to the team between them, remains to be seen. Nevertheless, prolific striker Benjamin Auer is still at Aachen, and he’ll be looking to improve on his 2010/11 tally of 20 goals.
Auer and Stiepermann are expected to lead the line at the 15,690-seater Erzgebirgsstadion, with the only notable absentee for Hyballa likely to be 29-year-old squad defender Mirko Casper. Schmitt also looks like having just the one player out, but it couldn’t have been a more crucial member of the first XI – 23-year-old Tunisian Adli Lachheb, a rock at the back for Aue last year, looks like he won’t be fit enough to feature.
The game kicks off at 12pm in the UK, and can be watched live on Bet365.com.