Quick starters duel at the Volksparkstadion
Erzgebirge Aue travel to Hamburg on Wednesday (kick-off 6:30pm CET) for the rearranged fixture and first of three consecutive home games for the Rothosen.
Whilst little can be read into the league table after little over a month, Daniel Thioune and Dirk Schuster will certainly take heart from the fact that when their respective teams meet on Wednesday at the Volksparkstadion, it will be second against third in the 2. Bundesliga. As such, the evening match-up will be a good indicator of both teams’ ambitions for the rest of the season, particularly having only played at the weekend and with a packed schedule over the next few weeks. This is certainly most true for Aue, the only team from former East Germany still left in the second division after Dynamo Dresden’s relegation in June. Nestled on the edge of the Ore mountain range near the Czech border, the Violets are known for their robust and physical type of play and their fast start to the season has perhaps been as much of a surprise to Schuster as it has been the rest of the league.
Focus on the visitors
Having finished the 2019/20 season in a very credible seventh position, Aue and Schuster were looking to build on the foundations laid over the last few seasons. The club have been on an upward trajectory ever since narrowly avoiding relegation to the third tier in 2017/18, winning the relegation play-off against Karlsruhe under the tutelage of current HSV assistant manager Hannes Drews. However, the new campaign got off to the worst possible start, losing away to fourth division Ulm in the first round of the DFB Pokal. An opening day 3-0 away win to Würzburger Kickers particularly pleased Schuster, as the Violets had struggled on their travels last term, St. Pauli being the only team who had picked up less points than them away from home in the division. A 1-1 draw at home to Greuther Fürth followed before the initial date for the game at the Volksparkstadion, which was cancelled due to two positive coronavirus test results amongst the Aue squad. The first game back after the international break on Sunday saw Schuster’s men record a 2-1 win over Heidenheim at the Erzgebirgsstadion to move to seven points from three games played.
Opposition scouting report
Continuity has been the name of the game in Saxony, managing to keep hold of their key players from last season whilst adding a mixture of youth and experience to the side. Twelve players departed the club and seven have joined, all on free transfers, meaning that the squad is largely the same as the one that finished last season. The Violets have one of the most potent attacking units in the division, including Pascal Testroet, Jan Hochscheidt and Dimitrij Nazarov, although doubts remain over whether the trio can sustain a promotion charge given they are all the wrong side of 30. The attacking unit is rounded off by exciting 21-year-old Florian Krüger, who has developed significantly during his two years in Saxony and opened his account for the season with the equaliser against Fürth on matchday 2.
So far, three of the four in attack have been used in a diamond at the top of the formation whilst one of the quartet has to make do with a place on the bench. Schuster has changed things up slightly for the new season with a 3-4-1-2 formation, and Daniel Thioune may look to use the pace and guile of Jan Gyamerah and Moritz Heyer to double up on the exposed wing-backs for Aue. Meanwhile, Aue are a team filled with power and physicality, and will aim to disrupt their hosts at any available opportunity, particularly at set pieces, which were the Rothosen’s downfall last season.
Rotation key as Dudziak added to injured list
The HSV coaching staff will have been pleased with the performance on Saturday in Fürth, securing a third win in three to equal the best start to a campaign in 46 years. Having dug in to see the win over the line with 10 men after Toni Leistner’s 53rd-minute sending off, Daniel Thioune saw room for improvement, particularly in an attacking sense when commenting on the game at Monday’s pre-match press conference. “We need to be clearer in our positions on the pitch and increase the quality of passing. Especially with the pressure from Fürth we played the ball long too early for my liking, and didn't use our chances to counter.” Whilst the only goal of the game was expertly taken by Khaled Narey after silky build-up play from Simon Terodde, the Rothosen had few chances of note, particularly in the second half, and will aim to be more effective from open play on Wednesday.
Thioune will have to be creative again with his starting line-up, the win in Fürth not without its casualties, Jeremy Dudziak landing awkwardly on his shoulder, the chances of the Tunisian playing on Wednesday were branded ‘very unlikely’ by the 45-year-old. David Kinsombi, Josha Vagnoman and Tim Leibold all returned to the training pitch this week and a return against Würzburg on Saturday could be possible, but Thioune also ruled out the trio making an appearance on Wednesday. Toni Leistner’s red card in Franconia means the defender will be missing for the next two home games, but could be replaced at centre-back by Stephan Ambrosius, who has completed his period of quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus and returned to training on Monday.
The good start to the season for both sides has been built on defensive solidity. No team in the division have conceded fewer shots than HSV (31) or Aue (34).
The average age of the Aue team on the first three matchdays was 28.5 years old, the last team to have such a high average age in the 2. Bundesliga was FSV Frankfurt in the 2008/09 season (29.0 years old).
The two sides have met five times in their history, once in the DFB Pokal and in the two most recent seasons in the league. HSV have won three times, there has been one draw and an Aue win (the most recent match-up between the two sides in February).
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