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THE RUN-IN BEGINS: REFRESHED BOYS IN BROWN HOST BRAUNSCHWEIG

This week's round of matches comes to a close on Monday evening when Eintracht Braunschweig are the visitors to the Millerntor (20:30 CET). The Boys in Brown go into the game determined to maintain their upward momentum by adding another three points to their total against the Lower Saxony outfit, who are unbeaten in five.

After the briefest of winter breaks followed by 14 league fixtures in 11 weeks, the three-day intermission last weekend brought welcome respite and an opportunity for the players to put their feet up and recharge their batteries. The Boys in Brown commenced their preparations for the visit of Eintracht Braunschweig with renewed energy on Monday afternoon, and after a week of high-intensity training have their sights firmly set on the first three points of a possible 24 from their remaining eight matches.

Braunschweig will prove a tough nut to crack, however. The Lower Saxony outfit need every point they can get in the battle against relegation and will push the Boys in Brown all the way. "We can't afford to underestimate them. They might be below us in the table, but their form is on the up," said Rico Benatelli in the run-up, mindful of Eintracht's new-found stability at the back that has seen them go five games without a defeat and concede just once in a 1-1 draw against Darmstadt in the final game before the international break. Head coach Timo Schultz has almost a full squad at his disposal for the final Monday night outing of the season and is thus spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting the eleven players best suited to continuing the impressive run of form since the turn of the year.

There was uncertainty about whether the game could go ahead after Braunschweig reported three suspected cases of coronavirus in their squad during the week. Head coach Daniel Meyer, captain Jannis Nikolaou and forward Fabio Kaufmann were required to self-isolate at home and will not travel to the Millerntor. Eintracht were able to resume training on Thursday, however, after further testing produced negative results. Over and above the regular PCR tests, the entire squad, including the coaching and backroom staff, have undergone rapid Covid-19 testing on every day of training and travel since Tuesday in accordance with the new German Football League guidelines.

All of this means the game can go ahead on Monday evening. Braunschweig slipped to 16th place in the table after fellow strugglers Osnabrück won 1-0 at Karlsruhe on Saturday, despite the loss of Brian Behrendt and Danilo Wiebe to suspension in addition to the aforementioned Nikolaou and Kaufmann are aiming to keep their recent run going and collect more important points in their bid to stay up.

In contrast, victory for the Boys in Brown, who won 2-1 at Osnabruck on their last outing two weeks ago, would take them to 38 points and almost certainly banish all thoughts of relegation, as Timo Schultz emphasised before the game. A sixth home win of the season would give his side a 12-point cushion to the drop zone with seven games left to play. Buoyed by their 14-game revival since the turn of the year, his team go into the run-in with their batteries full and itching to build on their recent performances.

 

Photos: Witters

 

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