FC Augsburg - 2016-17 Bundesliga Season Preview: Can Schuster pick up where Weinzierl left off?

What's in store for the slightly smaller Bavarian club in their sixth consecutive season in the top flight?

FC Augsburg - 2016-17 Bundesliga Season Preview: Can Schuster pick up where Weinzierl left off?
Image credit: VAVEL

With the 54th season of the Bundesliga kicking in off in under a week, FC Augsburg are a team that have avoided the limelight since the ending of last season.

Since then, a change in head coach, plus a busy summer transfer market has occurred at the WWK Arena. Making fans eager to find out what is in store for their team next season.

Now, with the season days away, fans will be expecting improvement under Dirk Schuster.

Mid-season finish again last season demands reinforcement

FC Augsburg’s fifth consecutive season in the top flight ended in a 13th place finish, in what was an average season overall, only avoiding the relegation zone by five points.

The indifference of last season came as a slight surprise after they finished 5th in the 2014/2015 season, however the influence of European football would have undoubtedly played a part in why last season was a contrast.  

The lack of a consistent goal scorer was one of the most glaring issues of last season. Players including South Korean international Ja Cheol Koo and Alfred Finnbogason chipped in with 15 goals between them. Whilst fan favourite Raul Bobadilla struggled in the same category, only managing four goals in total despite starting consistently. Making someone that could be looked towards for scoring goals consistently a void asset for the Bavarian club.

FC Augsburg under the scope

The way that FC Augsburg will play under new head coach Dirk Schuster is relatively unknown currently, however analysing his favoured style with SV Darmstadt could provide a slight indication to this.

The 4-2-3-1 is the most likely formation that Schuster will use, simply due to its stylistic appeal with both offensive and defensive benefits. This would also allow him to utilize all of his midfield options, a 5 man in midfield would make picking between the wide range of options slightly less strenuous.

Ja Cheol Koo and Dominik Kohr make most of the goals for Augsburg, the significance of their role in last season’s campaign will make them invaluable for Schuster coming into the next season.

Two defensive players have moved away from the club since the opening of the summer transfer market, including South Korean prospect Jeong-Ho Hong and club favourite Ragnar Klavan, meaning defensively there will be decisions to be made.

However, with the money gained from the transfers two worthy replacements should be obtainable.

Schuster was a popular man at SV Darmstadt | Source: Getty
Schuster was a popular man at SV Darmstadt | Source: Getty

Minimal movement in the market

Investment issues have been at the forefront of everyone’s mind at FC Augsburg most recently, and the seemingly lack of financial support has been reflected in the way the club has operated in the summer market. The only acquisitions thus far being through free transfers or minimal deals.

Alfred Finnbogason is still the most expensive player to arrive at £3.4 million, and won’t need time to settle due to spending the majority of last season at the club.

With the season fast approaching, the FC Augsburg squad is in need of strengthening. There is no obvious cover for the defensive void left by the two centre backs, and offensively reinforcements need to be made as Raul Bobadilla didn’t make the cut in last season’s campaign.

Alfred Finnbogason joined FC Augsburg on a short term loan in the January market. | Source Bundesliga
Alfred Finnbogason joined FC Augsburg on a short term loan in the January market. | Source Bundesliga

Key players

Schuster will look to Alfred Finnbogason to score the goals to bring Augsburg to a top-half finish for only the third time in club history. The Icelandic striker took the challenge of playing in the Bundesliga with ease after his arrival in January - scoring seven goals to help the Bavarian team to a 12th-place finish in 2015/16 – and will be raring to go ahead of his first full season after FCA made his loan deal from Real Sociedad permanent over the summer.

Part of Iceland's historic run to the UEFA EURO 2016 quarter-finals, Finnbogason will hope to inspire similar performances again at the WWK ARENA this season.

Ja Cheol Koo is another of the players that Schuster will be looking to make the most of in the new season, coming off a great 2015/2016 season in which he scored eight goals in total. The South Korean International will be an integral part of the season for FC Augsburg.

Die Fuggerstädter's campaign begins with a tough test when VfL Wolfsburg, with other tricky fixtures coming towards the end of the initial games, with Borussia Mönchengladbach visiting on Matchday 15, before a trip to Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 16.