Preview: The Bayern vs. Augsburg week
Bayern will face FC Augsburg in the DFB Pokal on Wednesday and then again in the Bundesliga on Saturday. We spoke to Felix, whose heart is divided between the two clubs. He gave us insights into the world of an Augsburg supporter.
Hi Felix, could you please introduce yourself to our readers? You support Bayern and Augsburg, correct? Could you tell us what bonds you with both teams?
Servus, my name is Felix, @SammyKuffour on Twitter and my heart seems to be big enough to have enough room for two favourite clubs. Since my childhood in the 80’s I have been a fan of the glorious FC Bayern Munich. The generation of Pfaff, Pflügler, Augenthaler, Nachtweih, Matthäus, Kögl basically. So my absolute number one club was and will always be FC Bayern.
But I grew up near Augsburg and always also had an eye on the local sports teams, even though Augsburg was predominantly an ice hockey town. In my youth I only came across the football club FC Augsburg when they smashed one of our local football clubs, but for 7-8 years now I have actively followed this club with intensified interest and have even had a season ticket since their promotion to the Bundesliga. It was supposed to be for one year only and yet I’m still here for the 6th year, due to the club fighting its way into my heart. (Insert untranslatable joke about the Augsburger Puppenkiste here).
FCA has not been involved in the relegation battles lately, instead, road trips all over Europe were achieved. Do you think more than just staying in the league will be possible at some point? What are the mid- and long-term goals?
It’s not that easy. Last season, Augsburg only secured their place in the Bundesliga very late. The problems were not only based on the additional workload coming from the Europa League games, but even more so from the dropping of points early in the season against the other teams in the relegation zone. Especially in the season in which Augsburg sensationally qualified for the Europa League, they won a lot of very close games, a regression to the mean was bound to happen.
Staying in the league and popping up the midfield of the table is as good as it gets in my eyes. The best case would be a development like Mainz or Freiburg, but that would need the youth development to improve a lot. A big chunk of the additional revenue was invested in a new youth academy, after all.
In the summer, coach Weinzierl was replaced with Dirk Schuster. What do you think of him and is he the right guy for the job?
Based on Augsburg’s options, Dirk Schuster was a good signing. Up until now he’s been doing a good job, but I wish the offensive caution and lack of originality were based on defensive stability. One has to remember that Augsburg lost both of last season’s starting centre backs, Klavan and Hong, and additionally was hit by an injury crisis. Currently, offensive assets like Finnbogason, Bobadilla and Caiuby are unavailable.
I grant Schuster one season to be able to implement his concept. That was also the case for a young coaching talent who was signed from the third division and ended in standing ovations for twenty minutes in Anfield. But the people of Augsburg are realistic and pessimistic at the same time and do not expect history repeated. Avoiding relegation would be enough. And even a relegation with a good chance of promotion the following season wouldn’t be catastrophic. The club and the city are very calm in this regard.
Augsburg’s key player is Daniel Baier. Would you agree and who else would you put in this category?
It’s true. No adequate replacement has been found, yet. Only Pierre-Emile Højbjerg during his loan made the impression of being able to step into his shoes, but then a certain someone wanted to move to Gelsenkirchen. One more year in Augsburg and he might still be a player for Bayern Munich. But I digress. Other than that Marwin Hitz and captain Paul Verhaegh are players hard to replace, considering their leadership and the structure of the team. These players and maybe also Bobadilla are the core of Augsburg’s Bundesliga dream.
Augsburg and Munich are only 55km apart. Is there any rivalry between the two or is the term “Bavarian derby” nonsensical?
Totally ridiculous, especially the increasing usage of the term derby. FC Augsburg does have a rivalry with a club from Munich, but that one is blue and not red. The rivalry with Bayern is only based on the classical motivation of a Davis-vs-Goliath story.
What do you expect of Augsburg in these two games? Will there be differing approaches for the two games?
Without the ball the usual 4-1-4-1. I could imagine a more offensive approach in the cup game, solely based on the do-or-die situation, but the general idea will be to park the bus and be dangerous on the counter. This also applies to the league game on Saturday, especially with the injury problems. Nevertheless Schuster might also incorporate some findings from Wednesday’s game in the game at the weekend.
What are your predictions for both games?
Let’s see, the cup fights between Augsburg and Bayern have always been close and intense, so it will be exciting on Wednesday. Augsburg will claw its way to a goalless draw after extra time and Bayern will win it after penalties. And then Bayern will regret the extra minutes that were necessary and thus decide Saturday’s game early for a 3-1 road win.
If you could pick one Bayern player to play for Augsburg, who would you go for and why? Which player from the Augsburg squad would have a chance at Bayern?
Why not allow Holger Badstuber to collect some minutes during a six months loan in Augsburg? He could stabilize the central defence and get ready to push Mats Hummels out of the starting XI – if Javi Martínez hasn’t done that already. But with Holger returning, Javi could move into midfield. And the other way round, wouldn’t Ja-Cheol Koo and Takashi Usami nicely fit in Bayern’s plans of gaining popularity in the Asian markets?
Weinzierl’s Augsburg established themselves in the Bundesliga, but he moved to Schalke and his successor, Dirk Schuster, was not known for playing the Augsburg way.
In his time in Darmstadt, the 48-year-old focused on long balls and quick wingers, while Augsburg was always about possession and a structured build-up. As of now, the approach has changed only in the games against clear favourites. If Schuster’s team fight a team in their weight class, only minor changes were implemented.
The biggest Bayern crisis in the last four years was avoided and thus Bayern will be favourites going into the games against Augsburg. Thus we only focus on their approach against stronger opponents. Schuster hasn’t completely forgotten about his defensive concept from his Darmstadt days, the handy difference being that the quality of his squad is higher now. Especially his midfielders are capable of solving critical situations with the ball at their feet. Nevertheless, hoofing it forward is still a thing for a Schuster team.
It doesn’t need much to explain Schuster’s system. The record champion will face man-orientations on the wings, a compact centre and long stretches of very deep defending, with occasional usage of the transition moment with only few touches. Augsburg won’t try to keep the possession for long, but rather move the ball in the attacking third as fast as possible. So Bayern dominating the ball with up to 70% possession can be expected.
The man-orientations on the wings lead to occasional 6-3-1 formations. Augsburg’s full-backs will probably stay with Bayern’s wingers when they move inside, while their own offensive wings will track back to defend Alaba and Lahm. Kacar and Baier should be set in the centre, with Halil Altintop their most likely third man. A more defensive approach is also possible. The three of them are moving in a very compact shape and intend to make sure that their opponents are moving in the areas with better defensive access.
It’s also possible that Schuster will take a riskier approach in the cup, since they have nothing to lose there. The goals should be the same: lure Bayern to the side-line to isolate them. On average Augsburg win their tackles very high, e.g. in their game against Leverkusen, where Schuster’s team even showed phases of attacking pressing. If that didn’t work, they dropped back in their 6-3-1 formation. Schuster’s defensive scheme is nothing revolutionary or pretty, but does have some effects. With only 11.6 conceded shots per game, they are the 6th best team in the league. They have conceded 11 goals, just like teams such as Schalke 04 or VfL Wolfsburg. Only seven teams have conceded fewer goals.
The biggest problem is the lack of offensive power. Since the wingers have to defend very deeply, their runs become very long and tiring. Schuster’s team lacks solutions to keep it compact in the defensive third while also occupying the other two thirds of the pitch, when the transitional moment arises. Against Leverkusen their defending was intense, but after recovering the ball there were no means available to get out of the counter-pressing.
Daniel Baier is the heart of this team. He organizes the centre, has the most touches, sprinkles some ideas into the build-up game and is also valuable in their pressing. His vertical passes in transition have to be prevented. Bayern should stick to their high pressing from the Gladbach game, because Augsburg is error-prone under pressure. The weak structure in possession leads to easy turnovers. To exploit that, Bayern will need their structure from the first half of the Gladbach game.
The record champion demonstrated that they didn’t completely forget what they had played in the last three years. Rafinha received very good support from the half-spaces and thus was able to have his first impressive game in a long time. Also the great runs by Douglas Costa and Arjen Robben created many options for Bayern and many problems for their opponents. Vidal’s role should not be underestimated here. He consequently occupied the number 10 area just like Müller did against Eindhoven. Ancelotti seems to have found the right screws to include more rotation and movement in Bayern’s game.
But at the end of the Gladbach game, these effects vanished completely. Bayern was back to their mode of not creating enough passing options and almost inviting the opponent back into the game. Hummels hinted in an interview after the game that movement was missing in the second half, especially due to the lower level of positional play the players have to make longer runs to create counter-pressing situations. If the intensity for these runs drops, the midfield is by-passed and the opponent can use dangerous areas directly in front of the Bayern backline.
The unconditional willingness to constantly create triangles has to be noticeable over 90 minutes. Especially against Augsburg with their numerical superiority in the half-spaces and on the wings and their man-orientations, constant support has to be provided. Bayern has the opportunity to gain the confidence for the upcoming weeks. The performance increase came at the right point in time, but the level has to be kept and even improved further .
- FC Augsburg 1-3 FC Bayern Munich (Bundesliga, 21. matchday 2015/16)
- FC Bayern Munich 2-1 FC Augsburg (Bundesliga, 4. matchday 2015/16)
- FC Bayern Munich 0-1 FC Augsburg (Bundesliga, 32. matchday 2014/15)
- FC Augsburg 0-4 FC Bayern Munich (Bundesliga, 15. matchday 2014/15)
- FC Augsburg 1-0 FC Bayern Munich (Bundesliga, 29. matchday 2013/14)
- 42 games, 28 Bayern wins, 4 draws, 10 losses
- 115 FCB goals, 51 FCA goals
- In the DFB Pokal, Bayern won three times and FC Augsburg once (then called BC Augsburg).
- 1983, 2012 and 2013 Bayern won 6-0 and 2-0 (twice) against Augsburg in the cup.
- 1943 BC Augsburg won 3-0 against Bayern in the first round.
- Augsburg only won one point in the last three Bundesliga games.
- Against Bayern, Augsburg collected the least points in their Bundesliga history.
- Augsburg won twice against the record champion in the Bundesliga. Both games were 1-0 losses after Bayern had already secured the title (2014 and 2015).
- In April 2014, Augsburg ended Bayern’s 53-game record-setting unbeaten streak.
- Robert Lewandowski hasn’t scored in his last five Bundesliga game; his longest drought in a Bayern jersey.
- The Pole scored eleven times in ten games against Augsburg. He hasn’t scored more goals against any other Bundesliga club.
- In 720 Bundesliga minutes, Augsburg was in the lead for only 60 minutes, bottom of the league.
- Bayern was behind only four minutes against Ingolstadt. On the road, they haven’t been behind in the league in all of 2016.
- Augsburg has the fewest shots in the penalty area in the league (39).
- Müller still hasn’t found the back of the net this season. Last season he scored one goal each in the two games against Augsburg.
- Müller scores.
- Bayern wins with at least two goals margin.
- Augsburg won’t score.
- More goals will be scored in the second half.
- One Bayern goal will be scored after a dead ball situation.
- Bayern will score two goals max.
- Augsburg will score.
- The record champion will have less possession than in the DFB Pokal.
- No goals in the first thirty minutes.
- Robben will be involved in one goal.
One prediction from the Gladbach prediction was correct. Overall: 28/60