FC St. Pauli recorded a tenth win in 13 games as they comfortably brushed aside their Angstgegner FC Erzgebirge Aue on Saturday. Luca Zander scores the first of an unlikely brace in the first minute, with Rodrigo Zalazar also scoring. Pascal Testroet’s late goal was only a consolation.
For the ‘Boys in Brown’, the question is now being asked whether the team that spent the autumn at the wrong end of the table could launch a stunning assault on the promotion places.
Their form speaks for itself. Since the turn of the year, no team has picked up more points than Timo Schultz’s side. They are also four points clear in the Rückrunde table, four points better off than anyone else. Not bad for a side that had only won once this season before Christmas.
The reasons are clear – such as the coming together up front of Guido Burgstaller and Wolfsburg loan signing Omar Marmoush and Schultz subsequently coming up with the diamond formation that gets that best out of the likes of Daniel-Kofi Kyereh and Rodrigo Zalazar. Even the defence doesn’t seem quite as much a liability as before.
They are still only eighth, but are now very much part of the group of teams that harbour outside hopes of pushing the current top four. Fortuna Düsseldorf, in fifth, are only two points away, and there’s now only a five point gap with Holstein Kiel, who are back in quarantine after another Covid case.
They are, though, nine points behind Fürth in third, which with six games to go seems like too much of a deficit to make up. Yet with the league’s schedule sent up the wall by the third wave of the virus, they could put the pressure by virtue of playing their games ahead of everyone else.
Unsurprisingly, no one at the club it getting carried way. “We would do well to watch from game to game. That made us strong in the last few games,” said Zander after his double, and although he admitted “you can see the curve at the moment,” the table is not in his thoughts.
It is the games against Fürth and Kiel to come either side of the Mayday weekend off though that will prove whether they can really force their way into the promotion picture – provided they safely navigate Würzburg and Düsseldorf first.
Having said that, realistically speaking, they will probably fall just short of breaking into the top three come of the end of the season, with moving above two of the current top four still a fanciful thought.
Nevertheless, a strong top half finish and making the 50 point mark (they stand now on 41) will still exceed all pre-season expectations, especially given the mess left behind by Jos Luhukay last season.