FC Augsburg travel to North Rhine-Westphalia to take on Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Bundesliga this weekend (31st March, 15:30 CEST). The head-to-head record between the two sides has no effect on head coach Manuel Baum’s intentions going into the game. He wants to come away with points.
Following the international break, all FCA players involved with their countries have arrived back in Augsburg fully fit. Aside from Kevin Danso and Raphael Framberger, who are still recovering from long term injuries, all players took part in team training. In the cases of Marco Richter and Alfred Finnbogason, however, the possibility of them making an appearance on Saturday hangs on how they handle the final training session before the game tomorrow. Also back with the rest of his teammates is Jeffrey Gouweleeuw, who is also ready and available to play again. “Jeff is one of our leaders. He is a role model on and off the pitch. He’s a very important player for us and I hope that he will remain free from further injury,” said Baum on the central defender.
Jan Moravek knows very well that now is the time to put an end to FCA’s very poor Bundesliga record against Leverkusen (FC Augsburg have never beaten Bayer 04). “It’s a very underwhelming statistic for us, but now’s as good as time as ever to change it. We’ve been playing well away from home recently and we want to continue that. No one expected us to get any points in Dortmund either, but the underdog role suited us just fine.”
For Augsburg, Leverkusen are a hard nut to crack. “I’ve no idea why we’ve fared so poorly against them, but Leverkusen do have a good team and a deep squad. They have a good balance between young and experienced players and play with a lot of pace. It’s a lot of fun to watch them play,” said Baum. “But it also makes them hard to beat. Despite that, we’re going there to get something from the game,” he continued.
Better away than at home
Things have been going much better for FCA playing away than at home recently. “We realise that we’re finding things difficult at home at the moment, but I don’t really have an explanation for it. We can turn it around next time though, even if it is against Bayern,” continued Moravek.
Nevertheless, the focus remains on the upcoming clash with Leverkusen. “We had a lot of time over the international break to analyse them and I’m certain that we’re prepared very well,” said Moravek. “We’re going there as clear underdogs, but we still want to come away with something. We know how good they are so we have to be champing at the bit for this game if we want to get points,” Baum added.