Union Berlin are an opponent "on our level"
FC Augsburg are off to Berlin for their first game of the new Bundesliga season, facing 1. FC Union Berlin e.V. on Saturday at 15:30 CEST. FCA coach Heiko Herrlich will have the same squad as in the DFB-Pokal game available to him. Alfred Finnbogason is at peak fitness and is hoping for an injury-free season.
It’s finally that time again – on Saturday, the new Bundesliga season gets underway for our FCA. "We’ve been in preseason training for long enough now and we cleared our first hurdle last week with the DFB-Pokal win. Now we’re excited to get started again in the Bundesliga," said Heiko Herrlich.
It promises to be a special occasion. For the first time in over six months, spectators will be allowed to return to the stadium. A maximum capacity of 4,400 fans has been set at Union’s Alten Försterei. "We’re obviously very excited. Hopefully this is the first step to having the stands full again either this year or next," said Alfred Finnbogason. Herrlich has a similar outlook: "It may be difficult to predict what effect a partially filled stadium will have, but especially for teams like us and Union Berlin it is particularly important to have fans back cheering us on."
Last season, the then Bundesliga newcomers, Union Berlin, were always good for a surprise. For example, against Borussia Dortmund. "We know their physical way of playing, we’re prepared for all of their strengths and will obviously try to counter these as best we can. We want to improve this season and this is an opposition on our level – so we definitely want to take the points," said Herrlich, who thinks his team are on a good path: "After the game, we’ll know where we stand. We prepared as best we could, worked hard, trained a lot and tried to improve our game a little. Tomorrow, we will see if this worked."
For Augsburg’s new goalkeeper Rafal Gikiewicz, the opening game of the season is an immediate return to his former club – the same is true for the new man between the sticks for Union, Andreas Luthe. "We were together for four years here in Augsburg, so of course I know him well as a goalkeeper – he knows me well too. We will see who’s been doing their homework better," said Alfred Finnbogason.
Herrlich will have the same squad available that faced Celle in last weekend’s DFB-Pokal tie. "The players recovering from injury are making progress. Marco Richter is almost fully involved again and I expect him to be completing all team training sessions by next week."
After a string of bad luck with injuries last season, Alfred Finnbogason is back to full fitness and available for selection. "I felt better with every passing week of preseason and I’m obviously over the moon that I can now play a full season for FCA and enjoy it, without worrying about any problems. I’m very pleased with the way I feel right now."