Looking ahead to Friday night
Augsburg are welcoming Bayer Leverkusen to the WWK ARENA on Friday night for the opening fixture of matchday 19 (20:30 CET). Although Enrico Maaßen is full of respect for the in-form B04, the head coach is hoping the fans can give the players the inspiration they need to pick up their second home win in a row.
“We’re coming up against a team that have lots of individual quality. We know what we’re up against, but we believe that we can do the business against Leverkusen,” explained an upbeat Enrico Maaßen in Thursday’s presser. FCA celebrated their first ever Bundesliga win over Friday’s opponents earlier in the season (2-1) but a lot has happened in Leverkusen since then. Since Xabi Alonso took over back in October, the Black and Reds have turned their season around.
Augsburg had a busy transfer period with their seven signings and they were able to strengthen at both ends of the pitch towards the end of the window, with newcomers Renato Veiga (loan) and Nathanaël Mbuku. Six players also left the club during the winter. Carlos Gruezo returned to the USA and Lukas Petkov (Fürth) and Frederik Winther (Brøndby IF) were both sent out on loan. “Both players have made great progress, but with their loan moves they can get playing time at the highest possible level,” said Maaßen.
Irvin Cardona and Ruben Vargas will still be unavailable against B04 but both players should rejoin training sometime next week. Top scorer Ermedin Demirović is suspended for the game after picking up his fifth yellow card last time out. Fredrik Jensen, David Čolina and Kelvin Yeboah, who Maaßen described as a “cheerful character” with “lots of quality,” could all be brought into the side. There was also good news regarding Iago and Reece Oxford, who have both taken part in most of team training over the last few days.
As he mentioned before the 1-0 win over Gladbach, Maaßen wants to turn the WWK ARENA into a fortress. They will have to be top of their game on Friday against an in-form Leverkusen side, who once again have the “exceptional” Florian Wirtz at their disposal. Over 25,000 fans will be in attendance for the cracker under the floodlights.