1860 and EHC in action tonight
Derby Time at the Arena - TSV 1860 München not only entertain a neighbor, but a club that they are looking up at in the table, perhaps wishing they could trade places. FC Augsburg drive down the A8 to the Allianz Arena to take on the Lions tonight at 18:00, hoping the next time they make this particular trip, it will be against FC Bayern next season.
Thanks to an 11-match unbeaten streak back in the fall which included 8 wins, Augsburg have risen to 2nd in the German Bundesliga second division. If they can hold on, they will earn an automatic promotion to the top flight.
1860 had a similar run, a 10-match run without any defeats earlier in the schedule, but half of the results were draws that kept them from making any moves up the table. And their slow start in the new year - 5 points after 5 matches - have them drop in the table and further behind their rivals.
Head coach Reiner Maurer is hoping the familiarity will motivate his team to victory. "Augsburg is an intimate enemy for our fans," stated Maurer. "It is very important for them, and for us, that we beat them for the second time this season. They are a strong road team and a solid team."
Young Lion Kevin Volland explains the key to victory: "We have to be aggressive in our challenges, we have to concentrate for all 90 minutes, and only then can we earn 3 points."
A quirk in the schedule had Munich play on the road for all three derby matches in the first half of the season. They split the matches and hope they can return to their magic at home. After getting a result in the first 9 matches of the season, they lost their last match of 2010 and the first of 2011 in the Arena. "It's now time to to win another one," stated Maurer.
Game notes: In 9 previous matches, 1860 have 3 wins, Augsburg 6... both clubs have only 1 win between them in the last 4 league matches... Benny Lauth (Munich) and Nando Rafael (Augsburg) have each scored 10 goals this season, tied for 4th in the second division... Goalkeepers Gabor Kiraly (Munich, 83%) and former Lion Simon Jentzsch (Augsburg, 79%) are one of the best at their position this season.
EHC try not to get stung by the Scorpions - After a two-week break, EHC München came back well-rested and ready to win, which they did by beating the Sharks 5-2 Wednesday night in Cologne. Munich host the Hanover Scorpions tonight in their first home game in 18 days. Face-off at 19:30 in the Olympia Eissportzentrum.
Having won the last two times they met, Munich hopes to sweep their regular season matches against the Scorpions and at the same solidifying their playoff position. Currently EHC sit 5th in the DEL German Hockey Bundesliga, moving further up the table after their win.
With only seven games left in the season, Pat Cortina's men have to be concerned as they are only 7 points ahead of the final playoff spot - the top 10 teams make the postseason with the top 6 getting a bye from the pre-playoffs. The next few games could make or break Munich's playoff hopes.
It will definitely be an interesting next few weeks as we wait to see if EHC qualify for the playoffs, or sneak into the pre-playoffs, or miss out all together.
Simone Sperduto and Gabriel Nounna contributed to this preview.