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?