Augsburg can lay claim to the title as the surprise club of the Bundesliga season for my money. I assumed they would floating around the relegation zone at this point in the season, but they are comfortably hanging in the middle of the table. It's not going to be easy for them to stay there, but who am I to predict doom and gloom for this team?
What Went Right
Sticking With Markus Weinzierl
The board at FC Augsburg made a decision last season that they were going to stick with Markus Weinzierl as their manager. The decision was not made lightly. Augsburg were dead last in the Bundesliga, and they appeared a sure-fire bet to be relegated to the 2.Bundesliga at the end of the season. However, Weinzierl managed to turn the ship around and has Augsburg sitting pretty at the halfway point in the season.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE!
They may sit in eighth place in the table, but Augsburg currently have the seventh best defensive record in the Bundesliga. A lot of that has to do with the stability amongst the backline. Paul Verhaegh, Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, Ragnar Klavan, and Matthias Ostrzolek have all started at least 15 out of 17 matches in the Hinründe. They may not be high profile players, but they are getting the work done week-in and week-out for FCA. Now, if they could get some stability behind them in the net, we may see an even better defense.
What Went Wrong
Augsburg are struggling offensively. The majority of their goals have come out of the midfield through Andre Hahn (6) and Halil Altintop (5). So far, it hasn't mattered whether Markus Weinzirl has played Sascha Mölders, Arkadiusz Milik, or Raul Bobadilla up front. The player in the forward position has struggled to find the back of the net, and those three have only combined for 5 goals. I'm not quite sure what the solution is for Augsburg, but they'll need to figure it out soon. They're really leaving no margin for error, and a defensive collapse could see them spiral out of control.
Through the first 17 matches of the season, Augsburg started 3 different goalkeepers.
- Marwin Hitz - 9 games
- Alex Manninger - 6 games
- Mohamed Amsif - 2 games
While I think we can safely rule out Amsif for the starting position, we're at a point where Weinzierl needs to make a decision on whether Hitz or Manninger is going to be his number one goalkeeper moving forward. I believe that the future is now, and Augsburg should stick with Hitz in the net.
Second Half Outlook
While they are more likely to find themselves falling down the table than moving up the table, Augsburg will remain midtable as long as they can keep up their current defensive effort. However, if the defense starts to buckle and the offense hasn't turned around yet, they could find themselves in a bit of trouble.