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Promotion battle in the 2nd Bundesliga: St. Pauli – “show character” and overcome the mini-crisis

From: April 20, 2024 12:10 AM

On Sunday, FC St. Pauli will face Hannover 96 in the northern match. While Lower Saxony has at least verbally said goodbye to the promotion race in the 2nd division, second-place Hamburg needs a win to overcome the first mini-crisis of the season.

When it comes to surviving difficult situations, athletes would like to become forest scientists. Clarifying ‘what we are made of’ is a common language formula. Karol Mets, defender of FC St. Pauli, did not fall into this ‘Forst trap’ before the northern match in Hannover on Sunday (1:30 p.m., in the NDR Livecenter).

Nevertheless, after two defeats in a row and the first mini-crisis of the season, the Estonian wanted the match against Lower Saxony at an inopportune time in the week to be “a test” to “show what we are made of”.

“Losing is the best way to show character.”
— St. Pauli defender Karol Mets

Even though he avoided the material issue, it was clear what he was worried about after the wild performance in the 3:4 against Elversberg: mental and mentality questions. About the resilience that made his team so strong for long periods of the season. About coming back after perhaps the worst game of the season.

Wahl moves to the center of the defense at St. Pauli

“Losing is the best way to show your character,” the 30-year-old said in an interview on the club’s website. After the latest results and personnel setbacks caused by the injuries of Philipp Treu (broken fibula) and Eric Smith (muscle problems), “there is a great motivation to be successful again.”

For this to work – and to keep Dusseldorf’s up-and-comer Fortuna at bay with a win in the table – the Mets and Hauke ​​Wahl will depend on Smith’s likely failure. The latter will – as in the victories in Nuremberg and against Hertha BSC – move into the center of the defense, coach Fabian Hürzeler said on Friday. Adam Dzwigala is expected to take over Wahl’s vacant position.

Hürzeler calls for more defensive stability in Hannover

The clear goal: “We want to emphasize what has made us strong.” After conceding six goals in two games, this marks a return to defensive stability and order. In short: more discipline in defense, the basis of Hürzeler’s system. The Hamburgers almost completely missed that against the Saarland team, given twelve great chances from Elversberg.

Against the ‘top team’ Hannover with their ‘tremendous strength’ and their ‘very intense pressure’ it will be even more important, the 31-year-old said, adding that he was ‘completely convinced of my team’ and had ‘great performances ‘. trust “in the entire club”.

“We are still the only team in the competition that has lost only once in the second half of the season.”
— 96 coach Stefan Leitl

Hürzeler’s 96 counterpart Stefan Leitl also has this. After two recent draws against Schalke (1:1) and in the Lower Saxony derby in Braunschweig (0:0), he declared at the beginning of this week that his team’s promotion race was at least verbally over: “We just miss the last bit of experience and conviction to actually be able to attack for third place,” said the 46-year-old.

When Leitl signed in the summer of 2022, 96 had given themselves a three-year plan to return to the first division. Due to further development this season, the coach sees his team on track. “We are hard to beat. We are still the only team in the competition that has only lost once in the second half of the season.”

Leitl wants to ‘get the most out of it’ at the age of 96

For his team – starting with the match against the second in the table – it is important to “get the most out of the season”, the coach said and exulted on the club’s homepage: “We will host the second on Sunday in the rankings. in front of a sold out house. We want this game “We will win for sure.”

This plan is complicated by the fact that the “Reds” are running out of attackers before the end of the season. After Andreas Voglsammer (thigh), Havard Nielsen is now also in danger of missing the last five games due to an Achilles tendon injury. A third attacker, Cedric Teuchert, is also ill. The only attacking option is Nicolo Tresoldi.

For Leitl, the fact that it probably won’t be enough for 96 to advance shortly before the end of the season is “not a bad thing. Because it is also part of our development and our process.”

Mets is confident that we will get back up

In that respect, both northern rivals have their own processes to deal with on Sunday, as Hürzeler also said: “You have to accept the difficulties along the way to appreciate the success.”

Mets is confident that this will happen again for his team on Sunday: “We have played very solid all season and we have one of the best teams in the league. That also gives me confidence that we will get back on track.” . And that the professionals of St. Pauli show what they are made of.

Possible setups:

Hanover 96: Zieler – Neumann, Halstenberg, Arrey-Mbi – Muroya, Kunze, Christiansen, Dehm – Leopold – Tresoldi, Schaub
FC St. Paul: Vasilj – Dzwigala, Wahl, Mets – Saliakas, Irvine, Hartel, Ritzka – Metcalfe, Eggestein, Afolayan

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Sports current | April 21, 2024 | 4:17 PM