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RETURN TO REGENSBURG UNDER TOTALLY DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES

Remember 21 April? If you don't, even though it's not that long ago, allow us to jog your memory. With four games left to go last season, the Boys in Brown went to SSV Jahn Regensburg with the threat of relegation looming large. The home side, in contrast, sat fourth and had justified hopes of completing an uninterrupted ascent from the third to the top tier. After the game, nothing had changed. On a day to forget, Markus Kauczinski's side had Sami Allagui and Cenk Sahin sent off in a crushing 3-1 defeat that inched them ever closer to the brink, while Regensburg's promotion dreams remained very much alive.

The rest is history. Successive home wins over Fürth (3-0) and Bielefeld (1-0) ensured the Boys in Brown retained their second-division status. The same can be said of Regensburg, whose promotion chase faltered when they took just one point from their last three games. The two teams thus meet again in the same division on Sunday, although the chasm in their respective footballing fortunes has all but disappeared when compared with seven months ago.

Both teams have made similar progress this season, which is obviously very pleasing from a brown-and-white point of view. Markus Kauczinski's charges return to Regensburg (without the suspended Johannes Flum, but with fit-again Christopher Buchtmann) 12 places better off and free of relegation concerns to face a Jahn side who have closed in on the chasing pack after a run of eight games without defeat that has lifted them to seventh in the table.

After a brief blip early on in the campaign, the two sides have impressed in recent weeks, adding to their tally with gusto. Regensburg have picked up 16 points in that unblemished eight-game run, while the Boys in Brown, though they have lost once in that period, have earned a point more.

In light of their current form, then, we can look forward to a contest between two evenly matched teams in which small details could spell the difference between victory and defeat. Sami Allagui is expecting "a heated, physical game" against tough opposition. The Boys in Brown know full well how difficult it will be, yet unlike last April they are not short of confidence themselves. "We're on a roll and go into the game well prepared and hoping to win it," said Mats Møller Dæhli.

 

Photo: Witters

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