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Midway through the international break the Boys in Brown travel to Rotenburg an der Wümme on Friday evening for a friendly against Dutch side FC Groningen (kick-off: 1800 CET). For head coach Olaf Janßen the game is important for two reasons.

One may be forgiven that the international break offered an opportunity for the Boys in Brown to put their feet up, content with the way the season has gone so far, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it has been a very busy week, for which Olaf Janßen has a simple explanation: "The international break rounds off our pre-season preparations, so to speak, and is the point where the players reach their maximum level of performance. We can really open the throttle now," he said at Thursday's pre-match press conference. Friday evening's friendly against FC Groningen thus marks the definitive end of the preparations.

After a high-intensity week of training the task for Janßen's side against the Eredivisie outfit will be to push through the pain barrier once more and extract the last drop of energy from themselves. "The necessary freshness will probably be lacking but that was the plan. The lads will go beyond the threshold but that can be fun as well," said Janssen.

There is a second reason why the St. Pauli boss believes the friendly makes a lot of sense. "Groningen are a good footballing side and will test us," he explained. "They can play 4-4-2 and 3-5-2, systems we've come up against in recent weeks, which is good. In this respect Groningen are perfect opponents for us."

In terms of team selection Janßen made it clear that a host of changes are to be expected. Kyoungrok Choi, Yiyoung Park, Ryo Miyaichi, Joel Keller, Lasse Sobiech, Christopher Buchtmann and Robin Himmelmann will not travel to Rotenburg, while Mats Møller Dæhli, Aziz Bouhaddouz and Svend Brodersen are away on international duty. A question mark also hangs over the fitness of Marc Hornschuh.

The game may also be of interest to old boy Lennart Thy, who faces Groningen with his new club, VVV Venlo, after the international break.


Photo: Witters