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REJUVENATED ST. PAULI HOST PROMOTION-CHASING FÜRTH IN GAME OF THE YEAR SO FAR

FC St. Pauli play host to big promotion favourites Greuther Fürth in the penultimate home game of the season this Sunday (13:30 CET). The second-placed side have been red-hot away from home this term and will travel to the Millerntor targeting another three points, while the Boys in Brown, who have excelled in the second half of the campaign, aim to bounce back from the midweek defeat at Düsseldorf and defend their position at the top of the form table.

The reverse fixture just after the turn of the year was a truly one-sided affair despite ending in a narrow 2-1 defeat from a St. Pauli point of view. Fürth dominated the proceedings from the off, hardly allowing the Schultz XI a look-in. After registering zero attempts on goal against the home side's 20, the Boys in Brown did pull one back eight minutes from time through Leon Flach, now with the Philadelphia Union in the MLS. It was to prove the end of the scoring, though, albeit only because the home side squandered enough chances for at least another two goals in the closing stages. "You have to play on the limit against a team like Fürth and enjoy a bit of luck. Unfortunately, we aren't on the same level at the moment," said Timo Schultz afterwards.

It is, of course, a vastly different St. Pauli side these days from the one that floundered at the Ronhof in early January. After remaining unbeaten in the final four games of the first half of the season, the Boys in Brown went on to become the best team in the league in the second. The scene is set for an interesting encounter, then, as Schultz pointed out at the pre-match news conference: "We want to show them we are no longer the St. Pauli from the reverse fixture."

Winless in their first four outings, Fürth did not make the best start to the campaign. Since then, however, they have produced some excellent football and picked up points consistently, making this the game of the year so far. The Boys in Brown top the form table with 28 points in the second half of the season, while Fürth, who have a game in hand (their home fixture against Sandhausen had to be moved to next Wednesday due to the coronavirus) sit third in the same category with 25 points. "We can look forward to a game where both teams will be thinking in attacking terms, so it could be a cool one," said an upbeat Schultz ahead of the visit of the league's best transition team (nine goals scored on the break and just two goals conceded are both league-best stats).

The Schultz XI will want to put the 2-0 reverse at Fortuna Düsseldorf behind them as quickly as possible and get back on track with a good performance, as they did impressively after the only other defeats this year against Bochum (3-2) and Paderborn (2-0), registering five and four wins in succession, respectively. Fürth boast the best away record in the division, however, and will be a tough nut to crack. They come to the Millerntor looking for the points that will edge them closer to promotion to the top flight for only the second time in their history, though the Boys in Brown will be going all out to send them home empty-handed.

 

Photos: Witters

 

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