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End one run, extend another the goal against Heidenheim

FC St. Pauli resume their league campaign after the international break with the visit of FC Heidenheim to the Millerntor on Saturday evening (20.30 CET). After five games without a win, the Boys in Brown go into the game determined to take all three points - something they have done four times in succession against Frank Schmidt's side.

The Boys in Brown have had two weeks to prepare for Saturday’s home game, the first under the Millerntor floodlights in five months. In the run-up, Timo Schultz named two things his team would have to do better to return to winning ways. First, they have to make it more difficult for the opposition to create goalscoring opportunities. Second, they have to increase their presence in the opposition box to score goals themselves.

On the positive side, their recent record against Heidenheim is exemplary. The Boys in Brown have won four games in a row against Frank Schmidt’s side since Schultz took charge, having won just three out of 12 before that. That said, Schultz is no fan of statistics, and they are worth nothing to his players. For him, nothing short of a peak performance will do if they are to make it five wins out of five against Heidenheim. "Heidenheim are a top side who will push us to the limit. "Having to put in the best possible performance against a team like them to leave the Millerntor pitch victorious again is precisely what makes it so interesting," he said in midweek.

Heidenheim have started better than the Boys in Brown this season and sit in fifth place with 16 points, just two behind Darmstadt in third, meaning Frank Schmidt's team are challenging at the top again, as they have done in each of the last four seasons. Their sole defeat of the campaign thus far came against HSV in early August.

Schultz will be without two key players on Saturday, with both his captains ruled out. Left-back Leart Paqarada is sidelined after sustaining a thigh strain at Regensburg, while midfielder Jackson Irvine is serving a one-match ban. Though Schultz has already settled on a replacement for Paqarada in Lars Ritzka, there are several candidates to deputise for Irvine in Afeez Aremu, Betim Fazliji, Carlo Boukhalfa and Connor Metcalfe.

It remains to be seen which 11 players Schultz will field against Heidenheim. One thing is clear, however. In what is sure to be a high-intensity encounter, his team will not only have to run themselves into the ground, but also be more rigorous in their defending and pack more punch in the opposition box. If the Boys in Brown can do that, they have every chance of ending their barren streak and extending their run of victories against Heidenheim.

Photo: Witters