Battle of the Lions as Oktoberfest kicks-off

The Lions parade their special Oktoberfest kit. Photo Tony Mayger, The Munich Eye.The world famous Munich beer festival has begun and if that alone wasn't reason enough to get you out of your cosy armchair and into the city this weekend, there is also an attractive sporting event to whet your appetite.

Bundesliga 2nd division leaders Eintracht Braunschweig are the visitors to the Bavarian capital on Sunday (13:30 KO), hoping to extend their lead at the top of the table. The Lions of Lower Saxony come to the Allianz Arena in fine form and have set the early pace with five wins from as many games, conceding just one goal in the process. They have recorded solid wins over Cologne, Union Berlin and last season's surprise package SC Paderborn.

1860 also have an impressive defensive record thanks to Hungarian goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly. Just two goals have found their way past the veteran shot-stopper and one of those was an unfortunate own goal. Scoring goals at the right end has been more troublesome for the Lions, but captain Benny Lauth has been doing his best up front whilst new signings Ismael Blanco and Moritz Stoppelkamp settle into the squad.

This week the players were kitted out in Lederhosen in celebration of the world's largest beer festival. Some were also involved in an international Oktoberfest competition at the Hacker Pschorr brewery on Wednesday which was won by the team of foreign players, Grigoris Makos, Guillermo Vallori and Marin Tomasov.

Team morale and confidence is high going into this Sunday's match but coach Reiner Maurer still has concerns about the level of expectancy at the club. ''It's important that the new players feel the support of the fans,'' said Maurer.

A win would allow the Lions to keep pace with the early leaders but a first defeat of the season could give them a huge mountain to climb. They would then fall 9 points behind the leaders and although the season is young, the added pressure that brings could be telling on the remainder of the season.

20,000 tickets have already been sold for this clash and that number should swell further by the time Sunday comes. With warm and sunny weather expected, a bumper crowd in excess of 30,000 wouldn't be at all surprising.

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