On Tuesday evening, at 17:30 (BST), it’s time for the game we’ve all been waiting for. It could be make or break for the two teams involved. You could even call it a ‘Klassiker’.
SV Wehen Wiesbaden and SV Sandhausen (who else did you think I meant?) face off in a crucial relegation clash in the 2. Bundesliga. The two teams may lack the attractiveness of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, and the game will no doubt be ugly, but that doesn’t make it any less important.
The first game in October did not live up to its Monday night ‘Topspiel’ billing, but with games running out and several of their immediate rivals also in action on Tuesday, both teams will be desperate for a win.
Rehm prepares team for battle
After their shock win against VfB Stuttgart, Wehen were brought down to earth somewhat with a 1-0 defeat to 1. FC Heidenheim on Friday. Rüdiger Rehm felt they were missing “the intensity and the mileage” of the Stuttgart game, and will have to put that right to give them the best chance of winning against Sandhausen.
“It is clear that tomorrow is an incredibly important game for us,” he admitted at his press conference on Monday, with just six more games to come after this and his team two points adrift of safety (and their opponents). He expects a battling game, and insists his time has to be “prepared” for what they will face.
His unusual 3-3-3-1 formation is well-equipped for the challenge, but it will be missing one or two important cogs on Tuesday. Stefan Aigner will sit out having seen his fifth yellow card on Friday whilst skipper Sebastian Mrowca is likely to join him after sustaining an ankle injury against Heidenheim.
There are various options to replace Aigner but Mortiz Kuhn should slot in for Mrowca. Rehm can at least restore his preferred defensive trio, with Sascha Mockenhaupt and Benedikt Röcker returning from suspension to rejoin Niklas Dams at the back.
‘Week of truth’ for Sandhausen
With just two points separating them from both the play-off place and the bottom two, Sandhausen could really do with a win, something they haven’t had since beating VfL Osnabrück in the opening game after the winter break. They drew with Jahn Regensburg at the start of what defender Gerrit Nauber has called the “week of truth,” with Uwe Koschinat feeling it was “a step in the right direction.”
He had plenty of praise for the “extreme” changes Rehm has implanted to stabilise his side over the course of the season. “They have developed a completely new game system,” he explained. “This team conceded very few goals and is a tight unit.” He is also wary of the threat posed by 16-goal man Manuel Schäffler. “We must never lose sight of him.”
Koschinat is confident his team remain in good despite only playing on Saturday, giving Wehen an 18-hour advantage in terms of rest. He should be able to call upon the services of Dennis Diekmeier and Aziz Bouhaddouz again, however a return for Mario Engels is only realistic at the weekend. Markus Karl and Rúrik Gíslason also remain out.
They used a back three at the weekend, with Tim Kister joining Aleksandr Zhirov and Nauber, although it remains to be seen if they will retain this, even though it helped them to keep a first clean sheet since last playing Wehen.
Date: Tuesday 26 May 2020
Kick-Off: 18:30 CEST, 17:30 BST, 12:30 EST
Watch: Sky Sport Bundesliga 10 (Germany), Bet365 (UK and Republic of Ireland), Fox Sports Match Pass (USA)
There are unlikely to be many goals in this, and another 0-0 cannot be ruled out. However a scrappy set piece goal will most likely to settle this. 1-0 win for the hosts, with Paterson Chato, recently signed on until 2023, the unlikely hero.