15:30 (CEST), Saturday 9th September, WWK Arena (Augsburg, Germany)
Augsburg will host their second consecutive match against Rhine opponents as they host a Köln side pointless after two games.
It’s evident from the outset that Köln are missing the goal-scoring exploits of Anthony Modeste as they have only hit the back of the net once in their two fixtures.
Hosts Augsburg have put in two solid performances and could feel they should have more than the one point they possess.
This will be a hotly contested battle and it will be interesting to see who wants it more as both sides desperately need the three points in Week 3.
Last time out
Augsburg 2-2 Borussia Mönchengladbach
Augsburg came up empty-handed against Hamburg in Week 1 but looked to rectify that quickly. After just 34 seconds Augsburg took the lead against Gladbach through Icelandic international Alfred Finnbogason.
The visitors struck back after seven minutes, though, through Denis Zakaria and eventually took the lead on the half-hour mark when Oscar Wendt headed in from close range.
Manuel Baum’s side pressed hard for an equaliser in the second half as Gladbach sat back and absorbed the pressure applied.
It took Augsburg until the 89th minute to grab a well-deserved point after Marcel Heller’s driven cross was met by Venezuelan U21 International Sergio Córdova for his first Bundesliga goal.
Köln 1-3 Hamburg
After a disastrous defeat to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Rhine Derby, there was a carnival-like atmosphere in Köln as they hosted Hamburg.
The visitors sucked the carnival cheer out of the arena, however, with two first-half goals from André Hahn and Bobby Wood.
Köln were given a great opportunity when former their former player Mergim Mavraj was sent off on 55 minutes.
Peter Stöger’s side consequently threw the kitchen sink at Hamburg in the second half but they couldn’t break the resilience of the ten men.
In the ninth minute of stoppage time, Köln eventually brought a goal back through defender Fredrick Sørensen, giving the hosts life with four minutes of stoppage time remaining, but it wasn’t to be as moments later Lewis Holtby tapped in from close range to condemn Köln to a disastrous start to the new season.
The substitutions made by manager Manuel Baum were key in helping Augsburg secure a well-deserved point last time out.
Marcel Heller and Sergio Córdova made a good case to be included in the starting XI, but I believe their best asset lies in the pair coming off the bench for the moment. No injuries to note as Augsburg will enter their clash with Köln unchanged.
Lacking creative endeavour, Köln need to press the reset button as they are yet to secure a point this season. Marcel Risse picked up an injury in the defeat to Hamburg and will miss the clash in Augsburg, with Christian Clemens replacing him.
Konstantin Rausch is still out with a concussion, with Jannes Horn continuing to deputise at left-back. A 4-4-2 is expected to be implemented from Peter Stöger with Köln giving new striker Jhon Córdoba plenty of time to settle into the new system.
Key Battle: Jeffrey Gouweleeuw vs Yuya Osako
The key battle between the two sides is between Augsburg defender Jeffrey Gouweleeuw and Köln secondary striker Yuya Osako.
Gouweleeuw missed a good portion of the second half of last season due to injury but has produced two solid defensive displays for Augsburg this campaign.
The former Dutch international is an integral part of Augsburg’s set-up, completing the third most successful passes for the club with 83, with 78% accuracy.
Gouweleeuw has been strong in his one-on-one duels, too, winning 63% of his tackles made, all of his take-ons and 73% of aerial duels competed.
Osako himself is coming off an injury lay-off, too. Last season, Osako had an excellent partnership with then striker Anthony Modeste, assisting five of his 25 goals in the Bundesliga.
However, with Modeste’s departure, Osako has a new partner in crime in Jhon Córdoba, who is yet to find his feet at Köln.
Can the Japanese international connect with Córdoba the same way he did with Modeste? If so, Köln have a fine chance to win. However, if the pairing doesn’t work, Augsburg will be favourites to steal the points.
A tactic consistently used by Augsburg last time out was delivering the long ball to striker Alfred Finnbogason. It was a very effective option, which led to the opening goal against Gladbach.
Finnbogason is a strong aerial threat, winning 67% of his duels, and he gives players around him, like Michael Gregoritsch, a chance to win possession by bringing the ball to ground with ease.
It’s preserved as an option when late in the game, but it will be interesting to see if Manuel Baum goes long frequently on Saturday.
Benefiting from chances
Köln have had no problem creating chances this season, but finding the back of the net has been an issue since the departure of Anthony Modeste.
They’ve only played twice, but they have created 23 chances this season resulting in just a singular goal from defender Fredrick Sørensen. Only Mainz have a worse conversion rate with the same amount of chances created, but for zero goals.
Köln were clinical in front of goal last term with 51 and it will be something we cover over the course of the season. Do Köln have the players to replace the goal scoring exploits of Anthony Modeste?
PREDICTION: Augsburg 2-1 Köln
In terms of last season’s stature, this game has upset potential written all over it. Köln are still at the gate waiting to secure their first points, but so far they haven’t shown many encouraging signs to suggest it will change this week.
Augsburg could easily have more points than they do and I believe they will finally capitalise on their good play and secure a surprise win over Köln.
Can Köln secure their first points of the season or will Augsburg condemn the visitors to their third straight defeat? Let us know in the comments section below.
Want to share your opinion? Why not Write For Us?