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St. Pauli entertain Fortuna Düsseldorf am Sunday (13:30 CET) in what is their 28th and final second-division fixture of 2020. After an enforced break in midweek, the Boys in Brown aim to end a disappointing football year by securing three vital points against a Düsseldorf side who travel to Hamburg on the back of three consecutive victories.

"My wish not just for us but for everyone who follows St. Pauli is to go into the Christmas break with a good feeling,” said head coach Timo Schultz in the run-up to the game. If that wish is to be granted against relegated Bundesliga outfit Fortuna Düsseldorf, his team need to give 100 per cent from the off and show verve, commitment, passion and desire in abundance.

Three points are a must on conclusion of an unsatisfactory year on the pitch. Yes, there was that victory in the derby at the Volkspark, but the remaining 26 games have yielded 11 draws, 11 defeats and just four more wins. "The lads have shown in training that they’re full of life and determined to play football and complete the turnaround,” said Schultz. “I expect them to bring that energy to the pitch against Düsseldorf.”

That will be no easy task for the Boys in Brown, whose midweek fixture at Kickers Würzburg was postponed until early January due to a positive Covid-19 case among the home staff, in view of Fortuna’s current form. Uwe Rösler’s side got off to a shaky start that saw them bag just one win in their opening five matches but have now settled into life in the second tier and recorded three wins on the bounce (3-2 against Darmstadt, 2-1 at Karlsruhe, 3-0 against Osnabrück) to lift them from 11th to fifth in the standings. The gap to the play-off place is now just one point, and Fortuna sit just three points behind HSV in second.

A win at the Millerntor would see Rösler’s charges continue their upward trajectory and consolidate their position at the top end of the table. No such targets for the Boys in Brown, who are seeking to fight their way out of the drop zone. In the relegation battle, every point counts. After nine games without a win, three points are desperately needed to turn the tide and close the gap on the teams above them. To do that, they will need to go flat out for 90 minutes.


Photo: Witters