It’s 12th against 11th in the 2. Bundesliga tomorrow afternoon, as the division’s most Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde-like sides go head-to-head. Although one might not have expected tomorrow’s visitors to be much higher in the league than they are right now (that is, on 17 points, like their hosts – five ahead of the relegation zone, 19 behind the promotion play-off spot), Bochum were one of the pre-season favourites to secure their place – lost in 2010 – back in the top-flight. After all, they had only just been edged out in the play-offs in May by Borussia Mönchengladbach, who came into this round of fixtures in second place in the Bundesliga.
But, despite little change to the playing staff over the summer, Bochum took several months to get it together at the start of the current season; the squad seemingly not ready to start the 2011/12 campaign back in July, and a bit of lethargy seemingly having set in. Despite five wins and a draw from their last ten games, Bochum’s poor start to the new season – which cost Friedhelm Funkel his job – combined with the fact that they’ve lost their last two games means that it’s highly unlikely that tomorrow’s hosts will be back in the Bundesliga next season. However, under new coach Andreas Bergmann, at least a relegation scrap now looks likely to be avoided.
Aue, meanwhile, arrive at the rewirpowerSTADION (sic) – which tends to attract only about 10,000 fans for the less attractive games ,à la this one – on a run of two wins from their last eight matches. One of those, admittedly, was a 2-1 home defeat in the cup to Nuremberg, whom they gave a very good game. Ultimately, Rico Schmitt’s side, normally set out in a 4-3-2-1, struggle for goals, especially away from home, and Aue have never won a game in Bochum (late goals from Jong Tae-Se and Giovanni Federico decided the league match in Bochum last season). That said, this is pretty much the same side that, save for a fixture backlog, would have been crowned 2010 2. Bundesliga winter champions (and, they finished the 2010/11 campaign in a very respectful fifth spot, too). Plus, Schmitt and his squad will be comforted by the fact that Bochum’s home concession rate is one of the worst in the league, and last weekend, Bergmann’s side were hammered 4-0 by Eintracht Braunschweig.
The players in Aue’s side to watch out for are goalkeeper Martin Männel, midfielder Jan Hochscheidt and former Bochum man Oliver Schröder, all three of whom will be buoyed having recently signed new deals at the club. Up front, Ronny König is capable of causing even the most experienced of defenders problems, while on the wing, Guido Kocer can be a handful. Those five and their colleagues will be cheered on by about 300 supporters who are making the trip from East Germany to watch Schmitt and his nigh-on fully-fit squad in action.
Bergmann, meanwhile, has fitness worries over two of his own stars, veteran Paul Freier, and youngster Kevin Vogt. Mimoun Azaouagh and Matias Concha, are definitely out. The former St Pauli coach called last weekend’s hammering at the hands of Braunschweig a “blow”, and said of tomorrow’s opponents: “Aue have a very compact and combative team, which is physically very strong. Up front they have König, who, with his head, is one of the strongest players in the league, with his colleagues lying in wait for the second-balls.”
Bochum versus Aue kicks off at 12.30pm tomorrow in the UK, and can be watched, live, on Bet365.com. The referee will be Thorsten Schriever.