It’s a top against bottom clash in 2. Bundesliga tomorrow lunchtime, as SpVgg Greuther Fürth travel north to take on Alemannia Aachen. If Greuther Fürth hadn’t thrown away the 2-0 lead they held at home to Eintracht Frankfurt on the opening day of the 2011/12 campaign, they’d be sat on top of the league with 21 points from a possible 21 right now. Nevertheless, they have bounced back strongly after that agonizing round one setback, knocking lowly Eimsbütteler TV out of the cup with a 10-0 scoreline and winning every league game since the Frankfurt setback.
Aachen, on the other hand, are yet to win a game, and have scored just one goal all season – 16 less than their guests for this clash. Coach Peter Hyballa was sacked on Monday and replaced – temporarily – by the man in charge of the U23 team, Ralf Außem. The former had managed to stop the rot a little at Aachen, as the club have drawn the last three games played. However, for a side supposedly built around their attack, these games have all finished 0-0; which, despite keeping their relatively impressive goals conceded tally down to eight, hasn’t done much for their hopes of ejecting out of bottom spot.
Aachen were extremely busy in the summer transfer market, building up a squad that should have seen them become one of the promotion contenders. Boy Waterman, David Odonkor, Anouar Hadouir, Reinhold Yabo, Marco Stiepermann and Bas Sibum are just a handful of the players that were signed up for attack-minded coach Hyballa’s cause, but the club seems to be suffering for the loss of players such as Zoltán Stieber (Mainz) and Mark Hoeger (Schalke); the two of whom provided a gargantuan 36 goals and assists to the team between them.
Nevertheless, it was hoped that by prolific striker Benjamin Auer remaining at Aachen, he’d match or improve on his 2010/11 tally of 20 goals. However, Auer wasn’t even the man who scored his side’s only league goal to date, nor the consolation goal during their 3-1 cup defeat at the hands of Karlsruher SC. Whether Außem can get the striker going again remains to be seen.
Aachen’s Bavarian visitors have no such worries in front of goal or when it comes to confidence. Make no mistake – Fürth coach Mike Büskens and his side are no flash in the pan, and the club will be among the promotion contenders come the final month or two of the season. And, who knows, they might just go all the way after being the bridesmaid for so many recent seasons if new Canadian signing Olivier Occean keeps up his great form in front of goal.
Büskens, who switched between 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-3-2 formations throughout last season, now seems to have settled on the former given the form in front of goal of both Occean and Christopher Nöthe. Transfer activity at his club has been thin on the ground this summer save for one notable departure – young midfield magician and last season’s top scorer Nicolai Müller leaving for Mainz in a €1.8million deal. Not, of course, that the team has played like they miss him.
For tomorrow’s game, Aachen’s interim coach will be without long-term absentees Tim Krumpen, Florian Müller, Bilal Cubukcu und Kevin Maek, as well as Mario Erb, who incurred a ligament injury in training on Thursday, and flu victim Thomas Stehle. Außem was on the same coaching badge course as Büskens, and although the 51-year-old was full of praise for his opposite number in the pre-match press conference, he reckons Aachen have a chance because he knows Fürth’s weaknesses, and the visitors have no idea how the new coach will set his side up.
Büskens, meanwhile, said: “We expect an Alemannia side who want to bring dedicated and aggressive play with the audience on their side. Their team has quality, but our goal is to defend our position.” The 43-year-old Schalke legend is blessed when it comes to absentees, with Nigerian striker Kingsley Onuegbu the only player expected to miss out on the game at Aachen’s New Tivoli stadium (a ground which has space for about 32,000 spectators, and pitch dimensions of 105x68m).
Tomorrow’s clash between Alemannia Aachen vs SpVgg Greuther Fürth kicks off at 12.30pm in the UK, and can be watched live on Bet365.com. The referee will be Tobias Stieler.