BOYS IN BROWN OUT TO DISLODGE FORTUNA FROM THE TOP
Friday, 22. September 2017, 17:34 Uhr
St. Pauli go into Saturday's home game against Fortuna Düsseldorf (kick-off: 1300 CET) looking to regather their strength at the end of a busy period of fixtures and pull out all the stops once again. Olaf Janßen's side again face the current league leaders – a task the Boys in Brown mastered with aplomb a few days ago at Holstein Kiel.
FCSP looked like a different team at Kiel on Tuesday evening, putting in a much improved defensive display just a few days after the 4-0 home defeat against FC Ingolstadt to shut out the league's most prolific strike force to that point. A Johannes Flum goal on the stroke of half-time and a wonder save from Robin Himmelmann in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time eventually saw the Boys in Brown to their fourth win of the season (all of them 1-0).
"We'll recover well now to make sure we have eleven fresh players on the pitch against Düsseldorf," said Himmelmann after Tuesday's game, already looking ahead to the visit of Fortuna. A number of players returned from the Schleswig-Holstein capital carrying knocks (Jeremy Dudziak, Waldemar Sobota, Richard Neudecker and Maurice Litka), and it remains to be seen whether they will be available for selection against Düsseldorf. What is clear is that Christopher Buchtmann, Mats Møller Dæhli, Marc Hornschuh, Philipp Ziereis and Ryo Miyaichi are all ruled out.
Also clear is the approach needed for the meeting with the league leaders. "We aim to make it as difficult as possible for the opposition to score," said Janßen at the pre-match press conference. "That's the basic idea on which our game is built." Sound defensive performances have already helped his team to victories over the league's highest-scoring teams in Kiel (15 goals) and Nürnberg (16), and so a clean sheet against Düsseldorf is again the imperative.
That will be no easy task against a Fortuna side whose form has exhibited a vast improvement on the second half of last season, when they took just 17 points from their 17 games. Friedhelm Funkel's men have already racked up 16 points from their first seven outings this term. The Düsseldorf boss, who Janßen says has "what feels like 5,000 games of Bundesliga experience", is expecting a rough ride against the Boys in Brown. "It's always tough at the Millerntor," the 63-year-old said. "Last week Ingolstadt did well on the counter-attack against St. Pauli – we need to do the same, we may well get the space for that."
Janßen's side will be out to ensure Fortuna have no space to exploit, of course, something they did very well at Kiel. The lack of solidity at the back against Ingolstadt – one of the reasons for the 4-0 defeat along with too many individual errors – was not in evidence against last week's league leaders, and the Boys in Brown also displayed their customary strength in the tackle. Yet they are capable of playing much better, on that there was no disagreement in the camp after the fourth win of the season.
Nevertheless, another solid defensive showing will be the basis for adding three more points to the total on Saturday. If Janßen's side are able to deliver one at the end of an energy-sapping run of fixtures, there is no reason they cannot beat this week's league leaders.