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FC St. Pauli play host to FC Magdeburg at the Millerntor on Saturday (1300 CET) in the final game of the year. After an impressive first half of the season in which Markus Kauczinski's side collected 31 points in total, they kick off the second half looking to carry on where they left off.

Two days before Christmas Eve, it will be decidedly un-Christmassy at the Millerntor. And that's good. An opportunity to leave behind the stress that some people feel as the festive period edges ever closer. Presents, food and difficult family dynamics all forgotten about. For 90 minutes, the focus is solely on football. And for the fans and the players, the task is to gather all their strength one more time and end an exciting year with another three points against FC Magdeburg.

The fixture against FCM is not one with a long tradition. The two teams meet for the fourth time only on Saturday, yet the past does give cause for optimism. In the 2006-07 Regionalliga North season, when the Boys in Brown gained promotion to Bundesliga 2, they won 2-0 at the Millerntor and fought out a 1-1 draw at Magdeburg on the final day. And it is not too long ago that Marvin Knoll buried a free-kick to seal a 2-1 win on the opening day of the current campaign.

Yet even though the Boys in Brown have a near flawless record against FCM thus far, no one can be sure that Saturday's encounter will be a mere formality. After picking up just one win in their first 17 games, Magdeburg will be determined to get a result in order to end the year on a positive note. Their biggest problem so far has not been converting their chances, but in seeing out a lead to the end. The Saxony-Anhalters, who replaced Jens Härtel at the helm with Michael Oenning in November, have gone ahead eight times this season, but gone on to win just once.

Patience may be needed then, if Magdeburg are to be prevented from doubling their win tally tomorrow. The relegation-threatened visitors are not likely to come out all guns blazing. That doesn't matter, a fan might say at this point, as Markus Kauczinski's side have shown with several late goals this season that 90 minutes at the Millerntor can be a long time for the visitors. For that to be the case again, however, the Boys in Brown will have to draw on all their energy reserves, wring out every drop of emotion, and waste no time thinking about the days to follow.


Photo: Witters

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