This weekend in the Bundesliga sees yet another relegation six-pointer take place as Augsburg hosts Werder Bremen at the WWK Arena on Saturday.
Both teams are in free fall at the moment. Augsburg have only picked up one point from their last five games, while Bremen just ended their seven game losing run in the league with a 0-0 draw at home to Bayer Leverkusen.
Those results have put each side in the fight for survival, as the hosts are in 14th on 33 points and Die Grün-Weißen are in 15th on 31 points. With Arminia Bielefeld also on 31 points and Köln just two points behind them, there’s plenty left to play for with just two games remaining.
That’s why this contest will be so big. If one of the teams can pull out a victory, then they’ll have all but secured their top-flight status for another year. If that happens, then the loser would be considered as legitimate candidates for the relegation play-off, or worse. A draw, meanwhile, could be bad for both.
Whatever happens, it should be interesting to watch.
Augsburg’s only certain absentee is Felix Uduokhai, who is out with an ankle injury. However, the likes of Marek Suchý, Fredrik Jensen, and Carlos Gruezo are all currently seen as doubts for the contest.
Bremen, meanwhile, will be without Luca Plogmann and Nick Woltemade, who are both dealing with knee issues. Eren Dinkçi is also unavailable for selection, as he is currently suspended due to a red card he picked up near the end of the game against Leverkusen. Lastly, Ömer Toprak and Marco Friedl should be able to return on Saturday, but it’s unknown if fellow centre-back Miloš Veljković will be able to feature as well.
Augsburg: Gikiewicz, Gumny, Oxford, Gouweleeuw, Iago, Morávek, Khedira, Caligiuri, Richter, Vargas, Niederlechner
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Toprak, Moisander, Friedl, Gebre Selassie, Eggestein, Möhwald, Bittencourt, Augustinsson, Sargent, Rashica
Ones to watch
When the pressure is really on a team, it’s often their best and most experienced players who show up to save the day. For Augsburg, that player very well may be Daniel Caligiuri.
The Bundesliga veteran has pretty much done it all in Germany’s top-flight. He’s played for a number of different clubs, like Freiburg, Schalke, Wolfsburg, and, of course, Augsburg. He’s also played a number of different positions, with this season being no different, as he’s been utilized on both wings, at right-back, and as a central attacking midfielder.
Caligiuri is more than just a versatile role player. He’s a key contributor going forward, with his tally of six goals and five assists in all competitions proving to be a decent return considering his age and the team’s attacking mentality.
If anyone’s going to be Augsburg’s hero, it’s likely going to be the Italian. His aforementioned age and experience means that the magnitude of the occasion should not get to him. He’s a smart player that knows what he’s doing, which might lead to him staying composed, keeping his team cool in the process. That would be crucial at this stage of the season, as the club are in legitimate danger of going down.
That probably won’t phase Caligiuri, though. His man of the match performance against Borussia Dortmund proved that he can get the job done in tough circumstances, and it wouldn’t be too surprising to see him end up being the man who saves Augsburg from relegation.
Milot Rashica should be back in the starting lineup this weekend, and his potential return is a timely one.
A minor abductor issue forced him to miss his team’s DFB-Pokal semi-final loss to RB Leipzig, and he was limited to just a cameo appearance off the bench in the draw versus Leverkusen. Bremen weren’t the same going forward without him, and they mostly resorted to lumping the ball into the area with limited success.
With Rashica likely to be involved from the start this weekend, there should be a new dynamic to the attack. He’s someone who constantly tries to get on the ball, picking it up in pockets of space before doing something with it. He uses his pace and dribbling ability to drive forward, forcing defenders into making decisions. That’s not something that can be said for many others at the club.
Even though the Kosovo international has had a disappointing campaign, he’s still Die Grün-Weißen’s star man, and he’ll probably be who the team turns to when it matters most. Whether he can step up when needed remains to be seen, but knowing the ability Rashica has, it’s tough to bet against him.
Last time out
Bremen were victorious the last time these two sides faced off as they won the reverse fixture at the Wohninvest Weserstadion 2-0.
Both teams had some chances during the contest, but neither were able to convert until the hosts grabbed two goals in the span of three minutes late on.
The opener came in the 84th minute, as a cross from Felix Agu wasn’t dealt with properly, which led to it flying towards the backpost where Theodor Gebre Selassie reacted quickest to redirect the ball into the back of the net.
Agu would turn from provider to scorer just moments later. Coming via another cross, this time from Romano Schmid, the aforementioned Agu was able to pick out the bottom corner with a first-time finish, even if he didn’t make a clean connection on the strike.
Those two goals were enough to seal all three points for Bremen, who will be hoping for more of the same on this occasion.
How to watch
The contest will be aired live on BT Sport ESPN at 2:30 p.m. BST for viewers in the UK, while those in the United States will be able to watch the contest on ESPN+ at 9:30 a.m. EST.