Will Schmidt turn to Ziereis?

Schmidt continues to focus on youth and his squad seem to be responding positively so far. Photo: Tony MaygerThere's a lot for Alexander Schmidt to be pleased about. His side battled back from a goal down last week to draw away with Aalen, his side are slowly finding their feet under his management and the winter break is not far away. Add to this the ever-increasing speculation about Sven-Göran Eriksson's potential position at the club and Schmidt certainly seems to be handling it all rather well.

During midweek, 1860 won an entertaining friendly 4-3 against SpVgg Unterhaching with reserve striker Markus Ziereis bagging a hat-trick. It was a game organised by Schmidt himself, as he wanted to give some of his younger players some more time on the pitch. Ismael Blanco also got on the scoresheet, a goal that he has long needed having gone 12 Bundesliga games without one so far this season. Along with other new arrival Marin Tomasov, the pair cut forlorn figures and have yet to feature in the 1860 squad since Schmidt took charge.

The absence of leading star Benjamin Lauth (8 goals in 17 games) due to a four-match ban could give Ziereis the chance to be involved, especially considering Schmidt's mantra of chance. Stefan Wannenwetsch has found himself replacing European Championship quarter-finalist Grigoris Makos and the centre-back pairing of Aygün and Vallori have also struggled to feature. The inclusion of Ziereis then, may not be as ambiguous as it first may seem. Although Schmidt acknowledges that Lauth is "the only one I can't just replace", it certainly gives Hawaiian born striker Bobby Wood a further chance to impress. His excellent individual equaliser against Aalen last week was worthy of note and Schmidt will certainly be hoping he can carry on his good form.

Schmidt's motto is "nothing comes from nothing" and he has clearly tried to instil more fight into his players. Some have hailed his changes as radical but considering 1860's previous slump - both in terms of performance and results - radical changes do not seem such a bad idea. Schmidt is quoted as saying he is open to playing anyone who deserves it and that is not a bad idea to put into practice. Let us not forget he is yet to be defeated as manger of 1860, securing two draws and a win since taking over at the end of November.

Jahn Regensburg were the side that 1860 defeated on the first day of the season, thanks to a solitary header from Wojtkowiak and a top performance from goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. 1860's hosts this weekend have found it hard of late, having not secured a win since their 3-0 home victory over FC St. Pauli at the end of September. Since then they have lost six and drawn three, most notably against front-runners, 1. FC Kaiserslautern two weeks ago.

Kick-off against Jahn Regensburg is at 13.30 CET on Sunday 9th December.


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