Ausburg out to make the most of red-letter week
The Bundesliga outfit have been struggling on the domestic front but their schedule perks up this week with encounters with Bayern and Liverpool.
Bundesliga strugglers Augsburg insist they are relishing their forthcoming dream home ties against Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich on Sunday, then Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool in the Europa League five days' later.
Guardiola will bring runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern to Augsburg's WWK Arena for a league clash before the same venue hosts Augsburg against Klopp's Liverpool next Thursday in the Round of 32, first-leg clash in the Europa League.
Augsburg are 14th in the league table, hovering just two points above the relegation places, but the Bavarians are relishing their visits from top teams and coaches like Guardiola and Klopp. “These are absolutely dream games for the club”, said Augsburg General Manager Stefan Reuter. Tickets for both matches sold out weeks ago.
The club received 5,000 applications for just 2,000 away tickets for the Liverpool game with Klopp set to make his first appearance in Germany since leaving Borussia Dortmund for Anfield.
Markus Weinzierl is chasing his third win over Bayern as Augsburg coach as they seek precious points to keep them away from relegation fight with just one win in their last five matches. Curiously, Augsburg have beaten Bayern in each of the last two seasons, but the shock results always came after Bayern had already won the league title at a canter.
“In each of the last two seasons, we have beaten Bayern, but we know that on both occasions we caught them at a good time,” Weinzierl said. “On Sunday, Bayern will want to win the game will certainly be highly motivated. We need a really good day and the support from our fans.”
Augsburg have only won five league games all season, but Bayern coach Pep Guardiola expects the hosts to put up a fight tomorrow. “I don't look at what we have done, this is a derby against a good opponent,” the Bayern boss said and as forward Thomas Müller adroitly noted: “there are definitely more pleasant tasks than Augsburg away in February. I don't expect them to wave the white flag at home.”
Guardiola is expected to be without superstars Franck Ribéry and World Cup-winner Mario Götze as both continue to work their way back to fitness after injury. Xabi Alonso is suspended after being sent off in last weekend's goalless draw with Bayer Leverkusen. New signing Serdar Tasci is expected to make his debut in defence after suffering concussion in his first training session since joining on loan for the season from Spartak Moscow.
Augsburg meanwhile will be without midfield playmaker Daniel Baier, who has fractured his ankle. South Korean striker Ji Dong-Won is doubtful with a knee strain, but goal-scoring midfielder Tobias Werner should be back after shaking off a groin complaint.
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