Augsburg vs. Freiburg preview: The tale of two strikers
By Ben Sully @SullyBen
After being involved in a swap deal over the summer that saw Michael Gregoritsch and Ermedin Demirovic switch clubs, Augsburg and Freiburg will move out of the boardroom and onto the pitch for the opening weekend of the Bundesliga season.
Augsburg will begin their 12th consecutive Bundesliga campaign this weekend. The Fuggerstädter will be dreaming of a top nine finish this season after finishing the last seven seasons in the bottom half of the table.
Realistically, after finishing in 14th place last term, Augsburg's main priority will be to avoid relegation before they begin to target the top half of the Bundesliga table.
Enrico Maaßen is the man who has the job of keeping Augsburg in the top flight after he left his role as Borussia Dortmund reserve team boss to take over from Markus Weinzierl, who left Augsburg at the end of last season.
As well as a new head coach, Augsburg have added Arne Maier, Elvis Rexhbecaj and Maximilian Bauer, while they were also involved in a swap deal with Saturday's opponents. The Fuggerstädter saw last season's top scorer Michael Gregoritsch join Freiburg, but in return they received Ermedin Demirovic, who will be aiming to play a leading role for his new side this season.
After a summer occupied by business off the field, Augsburg returned to competitive action last weekend when they faced Blau-Weiß Lohne in the first round of the DFB-Pokal. Although they were unable to trouble the scorers in the first half, a debut goal for Maier set Augsburg on their way to a 4-0 victory, which also included strikes from Fredrik Jensen, Florian Niederlechner and Maurice Malone.
Augsburg begin the season with a number of injury issues. Niklas Dorsch, Lasse Günther and Lukas Petkov are among those that will miss the Bundesliga opener. Meanwhile, there are doubts over the availability of Reece Oxford, Ruben Vargas and Mads Pedersen.
While their hosts may be focused on a relegation battle, Freiburg will look to emulate last season's success.
Christian Streich oversaw one of Freiburg's most successful campaigns last term, which included a DFB-Pokal final appearance. They ultimately lost to Leipzig in the final on penalties, while in the league they finished in sixth position, although they spent a large part of the season in the hunt for a Champions League place.
With Freiburg set to take part in the Europa League, they have been busy making additions to their side so they can compete in three competitions this term. As well as signing Gregoritsch from Augsburg, Ritsu Doan, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh and Yannik Engelhardt have all been added to the squad in the summer. Although the standout signing is undoubtedly Matthias Ginter who has returned to his hometown club after eight years away.
Like their hosts, Freiburg were also involved in DFB-Pokal action last weekend, but they were involved in a much closer contest than Augsburg. The Breisgau-Brasilianer travelled to the Fritz Walter Stadion to face Kaiserlautern, where they conceded the opening goal in the 33rd minute. Fortunately for Freiburg, Roland Sallai equalised in the 82nd minute before Doan grabbed the winner in extra time on his competitive debut for the club.
Freiburg will now turn their attention to the opening weekend of the Bundesliga season, and they will be confident of beginning the campaign with a victory after beating Augsburg in their last three meetings.
Lucas Höler and Kevin Schade are ruled out of Saturday's contest due to injury issues, while Lukas Kübler is a doubt for the away trip.