Augsburg scouting report: Schmidt hoping to arrest slump
FC Augsburg travel to the Commerzbank Arena on Sunday (kick-off 18:00 CEST) with a new head coach at the helm. Martin Schmidt is hoping to breathe fresh life into FCA's attack while shoring up the strugglers' vulnerable defence.
The Bavarian club have been consistently inconsistent in recent weeks, making it difficult to predict which Augsburg side will turn up this weekend. The Fuggerstädter have particularly struggled on their travels, failing to win any of their last nine matches away from home and have recently suffered heavy defeats at relegation rivals 1. FC Nürnberg (0-3) and at home to European hopefuls TSG Hoffenheim (0-4). Somewhat surprisingly, Augsburg have shown glimpses of their potential against the Bundesliga's big guns this season, boosting their hopes of top-flight survival with a 2-1 win against Borussia Dortmund and a goalless draw against Leipzig. They even led twice against Bayern Munich on Matchday 22, before eventually slipping to a 3-2 defeat.
Schmidt, who replaced Manuel Baum as head coach earlier this week, defied the odds to lead 1. FSV Mainz 05 into the UEFA Europa League in 2016. The 52-year-old endured a more difficult spell in charge of VfL Wolfsburg in 2017/18, though, stepping down as head coach after only six months in charge following a mixed run of results. Renowned as a master motivator, the Swiss tactician's optimism, passion and charisma tend to rub off on his players. Schmidt favours a fast-paced, attacking style, and with a stable board behind him, he will fancy his chances of turning around Augsburg's fortunes.
One to watch: Jeffrey Gouweleeuw
Fitness permitting, Gouweleeuw is almost guaranteed a starting berth in Augsburg's defence. Standing at 1.87 metres, the centre-back, who has won 59 per cent of his attempted challenges this season, missed a large part of the second half of the campaign with a groin injury. Since returning to action last month, the Dutchman has enhanced his reputation as a pillar of stability in the Augsburg rearguard. The former Netherlands Under-21 international is likely to play a crucial role in the club's battle against the drop in the coming weeks.