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BOYS IN BROWN AIM TO SIGN OFF ON POSITIVE NOTE

The football year comes to an end for the Boys in Brown with a home game against VfL Bochum on Monday evening. After eight games without a win, Markus Kauczinski's side aim to get back to winning ways at long last and enter the winter break on a positive. To do that, however, they will need to unhinge the best defence in the league at the moment.

For the Boys in Brown, 2017 translates into 34 league games and 56 points. The year began with an extremely unfortunate 1-0 home defeat against the eventual promoted team VfB Stuttgart. An outstanding second half to the season followed in which the club secured second-division safety with two games to spare and continued the momentum with a decent start to the new season. The brown-and-white engine began to sputter in mid-October, however, and none of the last eight games has ended in victory. The aim now is to end the year on a positive note by ensuring that barren run does not extend to nine.

A Monday night game comes at just the right time, then, as the Boys in Brown have a very respectable record of seven wins, four draws and just one defeat (1-0 against Fürth in February 2015) in their last 12 games at the start of the week. In contrast, Monday hasn't been too kind to Bochum recently, with one draw and three defeats. No matter what day of the week it is, however, the Boys in Brown are up against a formidable Bochum team who are unbeaten in six and come to the Millerntor on the back of two wins in succession.

Under the stewardship of former St. Pauli man Jens Rasiejewski, the Ruhr outfit moved into the top half of the table for the first time towards the end of the first half of the season thanks to a tight-fisted defence that has been beaten just four times in the last eight games. Markus Kauczinski's side will therefore need to come up with way of breaching the best defence in the top two divisions since October alongside that of Bayern Munich.

Kauczinski will be without ten players in that quest, including Christopher Buchtmann, who scored the only goal of the game in the reverse fixture in late July. Philipp Ziereis, Marc Hornschuh, Clemens Schoppenhauer, Richard Neudecker, Ryo Miyaichi and Mats Møller Dæhli also remain sidelined. Captain Bernd Nehrig joined them on the injury list in the week after tearing the deltoid ligament in his ankle, while striker Aziz Bouhaddouz is suspended. A question mark also hangs over the fitness of defensive leader Lasse Sobiech against his favourite opposition (five wins, three draws).

The St. Pauli boss was not complaining ahead of this second game in charge, however. "For me football has always been like a jigsaw puzzle made up of lots of little pieces that I, as the coach, have to fit together," he said. "We'll go into the game with energy, passion and courage to make up for the difficult injury situation and ensure we end the year on a positive note."

 

Photo: Witters

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