No drop-off in effort - Boys in Brown entertain FCN
Saturday, 17. October 2020, 17:00 Uhr
With the first international break of the season now over, the Boys in Brown return to action against level-pegging FC Nürnberg on Monday evening (20:30 CET) targeting a repeat of the home win over Heidenheim. Covid-19 restrictions mean that only 1,000 spectators will be present at the Millerntor.
The players have had more than two weeks to prepare for the visit of Nürnberg and the remaining games until the next international break in mid-November. As well as taking a few days off, Timo Schultz’s charges contested two friendlies over and above the usual training sessions, going down 4-1 against Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen before beating league rivals Holstein Kiel 1-0.
"You saw what happens when we invest just five per cent less," said central defender Philipp Ziereis after the game against Werder Bremen. “Our game doesn't function. We arrive a touch late every so often and it all adds up.” The Boys in Brown found themselves three goals down at the break after a below-par first-half showing and, though they did better in the second half, eventually succumbed 4-1.
The much-improved defensive performance after the interval in that game was repeated in the second friendly against league leaders Kiel, ensuring Schultz's side came away with a 1-0 win. The task against Nürnberg on Monday evening, then, will be to give 100 per cent throughout, be alert and focused from the outset, and avoid a repeat of the display against Bremen, when the St. Pauli boss bemoaned his team's "lack of grip" on the proceedings.
Both teams have amassed four points so far this season and have similar records. Like the Boys in Brown, Nürnberg suffered an early exit in the DFB Cup (3-0 against Leipzig) and followed up with an opening-day draw in the league (1-1 at Regensburg), then a win (1-0 against Sandhausen) and finally a defeat (3-2 against Darmstadt). The Franconians surrendered leads against both Regensburg and Darmstadt, and not once but twice in the latter fixture, continuing the trend from last season when they squandered 25 points from winning positions, more than any other club at this level.
Nürnberg suffered no such fate at the Millerntor last term, in fact they didn't score at all, losing by the only goal of the game in mid-May, the first after a ten-week coronavirus stoppage and the first competitive fixture behind closed doors at the Millerntor. FCN reported a COVID case in the squad on Wednesday evening but followed up on Thursday with the news that apart from Hanno Behrens no other player is infected and the game can go ahead as planned. Only 1,000 spectators will be in attendance, however, a reduction on the 2,226 who witnessed the 4-2 home win over Heidenheim.