After their convincing 3-0 victory against Frankfurt last Sunday, FCA’s next test is only just around the corner. On Friday, Manuel Baum’s side will travel to face RB Leipzig to kick off matchday 22. While Rani Khedira is available again after serving his suspension, Augsburg have another injury to deal with.
Marco Richter will unfortunately miss some time due to an ankle injury. The 20-year-old has just come off a performance in which he scored his first ever Bundesliga goal. The extent of the injury layoff is as yet undecided. Rani Khedira is back available for selection, however, after he served his suspension against Frankfurt for picking up five yellow cards this season. “I’m happy that he’s going to be back with us,” said Baum on the prospect of having another alternative to choose from. “It looks like he will have a good chance to play.”
The midfielder has been at FCA since the summer of 2017 now. “I made the right choice by moving here,” said Khedira, who came from Leipzig in the transfer window. “I feel comfortable in the team and I get regular game time.” The 24-year-old has been so impressive that he was approached by the Tunisian FA to represent them in this summer’s World Cup, although Khedira turned the offer down.
“I was honoured to be approached by them,” he said. “But I was born and raised in Germany and can only speak German. As my play style hinges very much on communication, I wouldn’t have been able to have given the team the best of my ability,” explained the midfielder. He also didn’t want to take the place of any player who had helped his side qualify for the World Cup. He’ll still support Tunisia in the World Cup just as much as Germany.
Baum: “We have to play with the same passion and heart as against Frankfurt”
FCA travel to face Khedira’s former team on Friday. The trip doesn’t have any special meaning for Augsburg’s number 8 though. “They were three good years in Leipzig,” he said. “But for me it’s all about winning.” With seven points from four games, FCA’s next opponents have started 2018 just as well as they have. “They have a lot of individual quality, play with a lot of pace and press extremely well,” analysed Manuel Baum when asked about the third placed side in the Bundesliga. He is expecting “a difficult game.”
The 38-year-old also addressed the changing expectations due to the strong performances of his team. “It’s clear that expectations have changed,” said Baum. “We’ve spoken internally about how we’ll go about it.” The coach doesn’t want to distract his players though, instead saying: “We want to bring the same amount of heart and passion that we played with against Frankfurt to Leipzig.” If they play like they did against Eintracht, then a similar result against a top team like Leipzig is more than possible.