Look into the history of football in Bavaria and two teams come to the fore – Nuremberg and Bayern Munich. The latter dominated before the creation of the Bundesliga in 1961 with eight national titles. The former has monopolised German football to a much greater extent with an incredible 21 championships since the formation of a nationwide league.
One name you won’t find inscribed on any top division trophy though is Augsburg. Just over 40 miles west of Munich, they’re in their first ever campaign in the German top flight having gained promotion as runners up last season in the 2. Bundesliga. Jos Luhukay’s outfit haven’t exactly set the Bundesliga alight, far from it in fact. Before the weekend, they sat bottom of the table after only two wins from their first 15 games. This weekend Augsburg faced title chasing Borussia Monchengladbach, a side who Jos Luhukay led for nearly two years.
In January 2007, he worked for a month alongside current Bayern Munich manager Jupp Heynckes, before his resignation meant Luhukay took the top job at what was then a struggling Gladbach side. The Dutchman oversaw their relegation and then promotion the following season. However in 2008, with just three points taken from the opening seven games, he parted company with the club.
After nearly 18 months in the managerial wilderness, he moved south to Augsburg where he gained promotion last season after being beaten in the 3rd place play off in the previous season.
No one will have been happier than Luhukay after Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Borussia Monchengladbach as his celebrations at the final whistle demonstrated. Their opponents were without star player Marco Reus for the second consecutive week and it perhaps told as they failed to break down an Augsburg defence which has struggled at times this season.
Nevertheless, the man with probably the longest name in German football claimed the winner for Augsburg. Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker’s deflected freekick secured an important three points lifting the Bavarian outfit off the bottom. In turn this prevented his former side Gladbach from going to the summit. Augsburg weren’t the only team near the rear of the table to cause a shock over the weekend.
Kaiserslautern denied Borussia Dortmund at Signal Iduna Park. A wonder strike from Olcay Sahan cancelled out Shinji Kagawa’s first half goal meaning Bayern Munich returned to the top of the Bundesliga on Sunday with a 2-1 victory away at Stuttgart.
In part, Bayern have Augsburg to thank and Jos Luhukay’s victory will be made all the sweeter with it coming against his former club. If the Bavarian minnows do escape the drop this season, it would be a remarkable achievement considering the stature of the club and the strength of the squad that Luhukay has at his disposal.
That is a long way off though and in their final game before the winter break, Augsburg have a tough trip to negotiate at a revitalised Hamburg, yet to lose under new manager Thorsten Fink. Whilst Luhukay must be wary, he should also be very proud of what is a big step for Augsburg. Not many sides have beaten Gladbach this season and whilst his modest team are in no danger of upstaging their bigger Bavarian neighbours, Augsburg and Luhukay must take it step-by-step for now.
There is one certainty though – Augsburg’s victory over Gladbach at the weekend is a major leap in the right direction for the Bundesliga debutants.
Matchday 16 Results:
Hertha Berlin 1-2 Schalke
Werder Bremen 4-1 Wolfsburg
Mainz 0-0 Hamburg
Nuremberg 0-2 Hoffenheim
Cologne 4-0 Freiburg
Augsburg 1-0 Gladbach
Hannover 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Kaiserslautern
Stuttgart 1-2 Bayern Munich
|1||FC Bayern Munich||16||11||1||4||40:10||+30||34||CL*|
|3||FC Schalke 04||16||10||1||5||33:22||+11||31||CL*|
|4||Borussia Mönchengladbach||16||9||3||4||24:11||+13||30||CL* Qual.|
|5||SV Werder Bremen||16||9||2||5||30:26||+4||29||EL* Qual.|
|6||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||16||7||5||4||22:19||+3||26||EL* Qual.|
|10||1. FC Köln||15||6||2||7||26:31||-5||20|
|11||Hertha BSC Berlin||16||4||7||5||23:25||-2||19|
|13||1. FSV Mainz 05||15||4||5||6||21:27||-6||17|
|15||1. FC Kaiserslautern||16||3||6||7||12:20||-8||15|
|16||1. FC Nuremberg||16||4||3||9||14:28||-14||15||Play-offs|
Table from Bundesliga Official Website