Cologne-Augsburg preview

Augsburg travel to Jekyll & Hyde club Cologne tomorrow afternoon knowing that a win will lift them out of the relegation zone. Last season’s 2. Bundesliga runners-up are in something resembling a purple patch at the moment, having lost just one of their last six fixtures. That solitary loss came on their October 1 trip to Borussia Dortmund (4-0), but in the past nine days, Augsburg have held Bremen to a 1-1 draw in the league, and knocked Leipzig out of the DFB-Pokal on Tuesday (1-0). Cologne, meanwhile, have lost three of their last four games, including a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Borussia Dortmund last weekend, and a 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim in the cup on Wednesday. While Ståle Solbakken’s side sit four places and five points above tomorrow’s visitors to the 50,000-seater RheinEnergieStadion, Cologne are far and away the most inconsistent team in the top-flight. Their home record might be decent-ish (seven points from a possible 15), and Augsburg have only won once on their travels; but, the Bavarian side can be difficult to break down, and Cologne will need Lukas Podolski on top form to achieve just that. Augsburg coach Jos Luhukay could also do with his main man, Sascha Mölders, rediscovering his form in front of goal; and, what better time to do so than tomorrow, with Cologne’s relatively unfamiliar back-four still getting used to one another. Continue reading

Augsburg 2-2 Freiburg

The first half formations.

Quality met commitment in this opening round Bundesliga tie between two of the division’s minnows, as Augsburg twice fought back through their new hero Sascha Mölders to earn a point from the kind of game they know that they could not afford to lose if they are to have any chance of staying up this season. After a chance-free first half which saw Papiss Cissé offer nothing, the Senegalese showed one moment of quality early into the second half to open the game up. But despite Augsburg using their wingers a little more and the long ball a lot less in the second half, Freiburg tried to play more football over the course of the 90 minutes, so you could make a case for them having been good value for a win. However, thanks to Augsburg’s players and fans showing the same level of energy from the first minute through to the last, and some inspired substitutions by coach Jos Luhukay, the top-flight newbies fought back in the final ten minutes to salvage a draw.

Match preview here.

The SGL arena (sic) erupted as the hosts kicked off; Augsburg were at last starting life as the 51st team to compete in the Bundesliga. Continue reading

Augsburg-Freiburg preview

The 2011/12 Bundesliga season is up and running at last, Dortmund comfortably beating Hamburg by three goals to one last night. Twelve more of the division’s sides get their campaigns under way today, including two lesser lights who could find themselves embroiled in a relegation battle as the season progresses.

Augsburg may have been knocking on the promotion door for the last few second division seasons, but this is the first time they’ve ever actually graced Germany’s top-flight, and the side who finished as runners-up to Hertha BSC last season have barely strengthened their squad since achieving Bundesliga status in May. Players like Axel Bellinghausen and Gibril Sankoh were solid enough in the 2. Bundesliga, the latter in particular putting in an heroic season-long effort to give Jos Luhukay’s Augsburg a league-best defensive record, but the players brought in to top up the squad include the likes of Sascha Mölders and Lorenzo Davids – decent players, a duo I’ve seen on a few occasions, but hardly the kind of signings needed to shake off the favourites for the drop tag. Continue reading