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Six points are up for grabs this week, three of them at Fortuna Düsseldorf on Wednesday evening (18:30 CET). The Boys in Brown go west looking to claim their fifth win on the bounce, while Fortuna, who are two points and one place better off in the table, are out to keep alive their hopes of an immediate return to the top flight.

Head coach Timo Schultz and his Düsseldorf counterpart Uwe Rösler had little to complain about at the weekend. The Boys in Brown eased to a 4-0 victory over Würzburg, Fortuna won 3-0 at VfL Osnabrück. "Apart from the first ten minutes, our plan came off and we deserved to win," said Rösler after the game. Schultz was equally satisfied after seeing his side win for the fourth time in a row: "The lads did really well today. It was a dominant performance from front to back." Neither team will be resting on their laurels, however, as there is still plenty to play for in the run-in.

Düsseldorf, who have a game in hand after their game against Karlsruhe was postponed due to the coronavirus, need a win against the Schultz XI to stay in the promotion chase. After a mediocre start to the season, they hit an impressive patch of form that continued beyond Christmas, only for their hopes of returning to the Bundesliga at the first attempt to dwindle following a five-game winless run that left them nine points adrift of the promotion places at one stage.

In the meantime, however, with the leading contenders dropping points or having matches postponed due to Covid-19, Fortuna have levered themselves back within striking distance with ten points from their last five games. Were it not for their meagre record against the five teams above them (one win, two draws and six defeats), Uwe Rösler's side would be firmly ensconced in the top three by now, but they have delivered the goods at the Merkur Spiel-Arena this season and will naturally be hoping to garner as many points as possible at home. They will have to overcome the Boys in Brown first, however, who go to Düsseldorf hunting their fifth win in succession to leapfrog their opponents in the table, at least temporarily.

"One of our hallmarks is that we don't try to manage games," said Schultz in praise of his team for continuing to go forward against Würzburg despite racing to an early three-goal lead. That quality is mirrored in the attitude of his players towards their current points haul. Despite banishing all fears of relegation with a meteoric rise into the top half of the table, they have insisted all along that they are not about to take their foot off the pedal. Tomorrow they will set out to demonstrate that by returning to Hamburg with a victory.

The last time they bagged all three points at Düsseldorf was in April 2017, when three late goals in a tumultuous end to the game earned them a 3-1 win. The Boys in Brown went on to register the best second half of the season in the history of the club (34 points from 17 games) that year. And that record could soon topple, as the Schultz XI have already amassed 28 points in the second half of the current campaign. On Wednesday, they aim to go one step closer to setting a new best mark.


Photos: Witters

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