After a 1-1 draw at home to Freiburg last weekend, FCA’s plan for this coming Sunday is to pick up the first three points on the road this year. At 15:30, Martin Schmidt’s men take on Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the third away game since the turn of the year. A win in Leverkusen would also put an end to FCA’s winless record against the Werkself.
Games against Leverkusen have rarely produced moments to celebrate for FCA fans. Of the 17 Bundesliga meetings between the two teams, Bayer have won eleven, while the other six ended in draws. FC Augsburg are still waiting for that first ever top-flight win against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
"Saying we will try to get that first ever win is the best thing to say in a scenario such as this one," said Martin Schmidt, who is motivated to end the club’s winless record against Leverkusen. "We need to believe in ourselves and show desire. This is a good way of approaching this game, saying: ‘We are going there now to try and finally end this run.’ It will be a great challenge for us."
Regardless of the historical head-to-head, the Fuggerstädters want to win their first away game of the year this weekend. In the previous two attempts in Berlin (2-0 defeat) and Frankfurt (5-0 defeat), FCA travelled home empty handed both in terms of points and goals. "For us now it’s all about consolidating and defending our place in mid-table. We need to assert ourselves against the teams below us and keep them at arm’s length," said Schmidt, commenting on FCA’s current situation.
Beating the Werkself will be no small task for the Fuggerstädters, however. Bayer Leverkusen have won four of their five games since the winter break, including a breathtaking 4-3 victory over Dortmund, leaving them in fifth place and hot on the heels of those in front. "Their positional play is unbelievably good and they’ve got a great passing game," said Schmidt, analysing his team’s next opponents. "They’ve also got some unreal pace on the wings with Moussa Diaby, Karim Bellarabi and Leon Bailey. Kai Havertz, Charles Aranguiz and Kevin Volland are also ridiculously good footballers."
Tin Jedvaj and Co. can expect a lot of work to come their way. The 24-year-old Croatian is on loan from Bayern until the end of the season and has started every Augsburg game since his arrival. So while Jedvaj will be coming up against his Leverkusen acquaintances, there are some injury doubts in the FCA camp: Julian Schieber is back on the pitch but not yet involved in team training. Doubts are also surrounding Fabian Giefer and Jan Morávek, who had to cut training short with back problems. "We will also have to wait and see how Stephan Lichtsteiner copes in the next couple of days," said Schmidt, wrapping up the team news. Lichtsteiner took a kick to the knee against Freiburg and was stretchered off with a deep cut.
FCA’s clash with Leverkusen has been described by Schmidt as "one of the biggest challenges we’ll face in the Bundesliga. Nobody is expecting us to get anything against the Werkself – so why not take that as incentive to finally beat them?"