After two games away from home, FC Augsburg will return to the WWK ARENA on Sunday at 15:30 CET to face Eintracht Frankfurt. Three FCA first team players will miss the game against the Bundesliga’s second best away side.
Aside from the injured Jeffrey Gouweleeuw (partially torn left MCL) and the suspended Rani Khedira (five yellow cards), FCA will also be without top goalscorer Alfred Finnbogason. The striker will be out for around six weeks due to a calf injury. “Despite this setback, I still think we have a strong squad,” emphasised Manuel Baum.
One candidate to start on Sunday is Marcel Heller. The winger, who was on the bench for the first two games of 2018, came on at half time in the 1-1 draw against Cologne. “He was a big part of how we managed to turn things around in the second half,” praised his coach before continuing: “He’s raring to go for 365 days a year – no matter if he’s playing or not.”
Frankfurt hold the second best away record in the league
Augsburg’s number 7 is self critical of himself, however. “I was in a bit of a poor run of form just before the winter break,” said Heller. “But I give my all in training to improve.” The game against Frankfurt is a special one for the 31-year-old, as he wore their shirt for three and a half years. “I still know a few people from my time there and I’m hoping that it’ll be an interesting game,” said the right winger ahead of the clash with his old team.
Niko Kovac’s side have meanwhile built up a reputation as one of the best away sides in the league. The men from Frankfurt have collected 21 points (six wins, three draws and one loss) on enemy turf, trailing only Bayern (22 points) for the best record in the league. “They lost a few good players this summer, but they’ve brought in some brilliant replacements,” said Manuel Baum when asked about the league’s fourth placed side and emphasised: “They deserve to be where they are right now.”
Heller hopes to get his first FCA goal
The 38-year-old picks out Eintracht’s flexibility as one of their particular strengths. “They can press high, they can press deep, they can play with either two or three players up front. They’re flexible and are hard to adapt to,” said Baum. “And aside from playing football, they’re a very gritty side.” However, the plan for Sunday is clear. “We’re playing at home and we obviously want to win.” Marcel Heller made clear. “We will give our all to come away with the three points.”
The wide-man is still waiting for his first goal in an FCA shirt. “I’m an attacker – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to score,” said Heller. “I will try to get in the box more and to take more shots on goal.” Even if he emphasises the importance of team success over individual accolades though, he still concedes: “I’m hoping to get off the mark soon.” Doing so on Sunday would be the perfect time to do so.