Augsburg to take on VfB Stuttgart
On matchday 15 of the Bundesliga (Sunday, 10th January, 15.30 CET), FC Augsburg meet VfB Stuttgart in a battle between two direct neighbours in the table. Heiko Herrlich is asking his team to take the next step forwards in order to deal with the attractive football played by the newly-promoted side. Herrlich, however, has a few gaps in the squad to fill this weekend.
After victory in Cologne (1-0) to start the year, Heiko Herrlich’s men now face their first home game of 2021. The opposition will be VfB Stuttgart, who lie directly beneath Augsburg in the table with only one point less. “Stuttgart live off quick transitions and vertical play, which is bold and refreshing. It’s fun to watch,” said Herrlich. “That makes it even more important that we perform better than last match.”
After analysing the Köln game, Herrlich thinks that his side has the potential to improve and maintain the gap over Stuttgart - or even extend it. “Now the team has to show that they are hungry,” emphasises the FCA head coach. “We have the momentum and the quality, so I’m expecting us to take another step forward.”
Herrlich will have to do without his skipper at the back, though, as captain Jeffrey Gouweleeuw misses out through suspension after amassing five yellow cards this season. “Rani Khedira has played in the back three quite often already. We could also go with a back four with Robert Gumny, who did his job really well in the friendly on Monday,” said Herrlich. “We will continue to keep a close eye on things and hopefully we will make the right decision.”
Raphael Framberger also remains on the sidelines. “He is still in individual rehab training and isn’t available for us. That will last a little while yet,” said Herrlich. Fredrik Jensen also continues to train alone. Another doubt is Mads Pedersen, who is also suffering with injury problems after the match against Regensburg. There is also a question mark over Alfred Finnbogason: “He will join in with parts of training today, but it’s not clear whether that will be enough to be ready for Sunday,” said Herrlich.
On the other hand, Augsburg can look forward to the return of André Hahn, who is ready and available after having suffered from Covid-19. The forward sent a message to his head coach with his winning goal in the 1-0 friendly victory against Regensburg. “I’m happy that he is back,” said Herrlich. “I’m also really positive about the shape he’s in. I can’t say whether he’s ready to play the full 90 minutes, but we can definitely count on him.”
Two players whose performances have stood out in recent weeks are Marco Richter and Iago. “Marco is in good form. The desire is definitely there and he takes on the things that we tell him,” said Herrlich. “He scored a really important goal against Schalke.” Iago also shone with his deciding goal last time out in Cologne. “He has had some really good matches this season. He always gives it everything, defends well and joins in going forward. The most important thing was for him to get a handle on his injury problems,” said Herrlich.