Pure drama on Matchday 34
A dramatic final day of the season saw FC Augsburg suffer a 2-0 defeat away to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Despite defeat, the Fuggerstädter secured their place in the next Bundesliga season thanks to others’ results.
Head coach Enrico Maaßen and his coaching staff made two changes to the team which started the recent defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund. Arne Maier and the previously suspended Robert Gumny came in to the team, with Ruben Vargas returning to the squad following a ligament injury. Mergim Berisha missed out due to an ankle issue.
Any plans the FCA squad had come up with before kick-off were thrown out of the window after just three minutes. Marcus Thuram helped a long ball on to Jonas Hofmann, who crossed into the centre. Luca Netz had no issue tucking the ball home from close range to give the home side a 1-0 lead. As the game continued, the Foals remained dominant with their strong midfield. Both Thuram and Lars Stindl, who was making his 222nd and final appearance for Borussia, had early attempts which missed to the left of goal.
The Fuggerstädter took until the 24th minute to create their first shot on goal. Arne Engels fired from range, but his curling effort was parried by Gladbach goalkeeper Jonas Omlin. After the game settled down a touch, FCA were put two goals behind by Hofmann – he found the net via the inside of the left-hand post on 40 minutes. And if that wasn’t enough, Gumny was then sent off for a professional foul on Thuram. The referee had initially awarded a penalty and a yellow card for the challenge, but a look at VAR downgraded the penalty to a free-kick and upgraded the card to a straight red (45+3’). Stindl’s resulting free-kick was tipped over by goalkeeper Tomas Koubek.
The second half came with a mammoth task for Maaßen’s side: to come back from two goals down with ten men. Whilst Gladbach looked to shut up shop slightly, FCA fought their way into the game despite the man’s disadvantage. Substitutes Kelvin Yeboah and Vargas looked to provide momentum, the latter’s left-footed effort blocked by a defender. Not much more happened on the Borussia-Park pitch, apart from an Ermedin Demirović header which Omlin dealt with. Then, nerves started to set in and all eyes turned to VfB Stuttgart’s game against TSG Hoffenheim.
Whilst VfL Bochum secured their safety with a 3-0 win over DFB-Pokal finalists Bayer Leverkusen, Stuttgart vs Hoffenheim was a much closer affair. With FCA’s game ending before VfB’s, all that mattered was the final whistle at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. As Stuttgart could not find a winner and drew 1-1, the celebrations started with FC Augsburg safe in the Bundesliga for a 13th season, despite defeat on the final day.