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"There'll be no opening the throttle just a bit because we have enough players who are fresh and ready to play," said midfielder Christopher Buchtmann ahead of Friday's game at Erzgebirge Aue. Rest assured, not one player will be going at half pace in the hope of having slightly fresher legs for the next two fixtures, at home against SV Sandhausen (Tuesday, 4. April, 1730 CET) and at FC Nürnberg (Friday, 7 April, 1830 CRT). The Boys in Brown (15th in the table) know they will have to give 100 per cent if they are to overcome their close rivals in the battle against relegation (Aue are 17th).

Ewald Lienen's side will be looking to continue their upturn in away form and come away with at least a point. That run has seen them win at Greuther Fürth (2-0), Eintracht Braunschweig (2-1) and 1860 Munich (2-1). The only blip was the 1-1 draw at Arminia Bielefeld in February.

Aue, who have taken four points out of six under new head coach Domenico Tedesco (1-0 against Karlsruhe, 1-1 against Bochum), are out to leapfrog the Boys in Brown with a win and escape the drop zone for the first time since October. Lienen's side, on the other hand, could overtake FC Kaiserslautern if they win and could even jump to 13th if 1860 Munich lose at Fortuna Düsseldorf.

What the other teams do on Friday evening is of no import, however. The focus is firmly fixed on the crunch encounter with Aue. Lienen expects to face a decent Aue side who are much more stable than in the first half of the season. The Saxony outfit have lost just twice since the turn of the year, like the Boys in Brown, and are unbeaten in their last three outings.

In the run-up to the game Lienen pointed out that matches against immediate rivals are always something "special". The personnel situation is a little out of the ordinary as well, with bright and bleak spots. The St. Pauli boss may be without striker Aziz Bouhaddouz (one-match ban) and attacking midfielder Cenk Sahin (after-effects of illness), but in central defence he is spoilt for choice. In addition to Sören Gonther and Philipp Ziereis, Lasse Sobiech, who is back from suspension, and Marc Hornschuh, who has recovered from a thigh strain, are available for selection.


Photo: Witters