2. Bundesliga surprise package Paderborn host Aue tomorrow lunchtime as they look to leapfrog fourth-placed St Pauli in the standings. Both sides played in the cup in the week, with Paderborn travelling to second-division leaders Fürth on Tuesday, and Aue hosting Nuremberg the followning evening. The former were battered 4-0, and saw key midfielder Markus Krösche taken off injured (and subsequently ruled out for up to four weeks), his replacement Markus Palionis red-carded, and coach Roger Schmidt sent to the stands. Aue, on the other hand, came away with their pride intact after losing 2-1. Despite coach Rico Schmitt making four changes to the side, the East German outfit gave a good account of themselves, and the signs of fatigue might show well in North Rhine-Westphalia in this fixture. Aue acquitting themselves so well against an established Bundesliga team should come as no surprise, though – they finished fifth in the second-tier last year, and the squad has by and large stayed together with transfer activity thin on the ground over the summer.
Nevertheless, Aue have won just two of their last 11 games in the league, with these victories coming over the course of a seven-day period from September 23 – commencing with a shock win at St Pauli, and concluding with a 1-0 triumph over ultra-defensive Hansa Rostock. Last weekend, Schmitt’s side draw 1-1 with in-form Union Berlin, and come into this game knowing a win could lift them up to eighth in the table.
Meanwhile, the similarly-named Schmidt, who has switched between a 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1 and a 4-4-1-1 at Paderborn this season, saw his team held 1-1 by 1860 Munich last weekend. The club finished in the relative anonymity of 12th-place last season, but other than Fürth, no side in the division has conceded less goals – nine – than Paderborn have during the 12 fixtures played so far in the 2011/12 campaign.
Although Schmidt’s side have drawn several games by 0-0 and 1-1 scorelines this season, they did recently put four past both Bochum and Ingolstadt – trouncings facilitated by Nick Proschwitz and Sören Brandy linking up well in attack, keeping USA striker Matthew Taylor on the bench. Schmidt has shown a great deal of respect to Paderborn’s opponents in the run up to this game. He said: “This is a very important home game, and we certainly do not underestimate Aue.” The visitors’ 43-year-old coach, meanwhile, who will have to make do without the suspended Marc Hensel, noted: “Our successful 2010/11 season started with an away win in Paderborn, and we naturally want to continue. We go there on Saturday to score points.”
With Paderborn only attracting about 7,000 fans to games at the Energieteam Arena, and Aue also being one of the division’s least-supported sides, expect to see one of the lowest 2. Bundesliga crowds of the season for this match (by Thursday afternoon, 4,000 tickets had been shifted). Robert Kempter, who took charge of Paderborn’s aforementioned 4-0 win over Bochum, will be the referee for tomorrow’s match, which kicks off at noon in the UK. It can be watched live on Bet365.com.