Jefferson Farfan and Schalke were left frustrated as they fell short against a dogged Augsburg
FC Augsburg will view their 0-0 draw at home to FC Schalke 04 as two points dropped after dominating for most of the encounter against the UEFA Champions League participants.Schalke’s star-studded side showed only sporadic glimpses of their potential as they were forced on to the back foot by their hosts’ relentless pressing. South Korean duo Ja-Cheol Koo and Dong-Won Ji combined well for Augsburg, but were unable to take advantage of the few chances created.
After struggling prior to the winter break, both teams will have been delighted to pick up three points on Matchday 18, even if they were more nervy encounters than they would have liked. Accordingly, the opening few minutes were rather cagey here, as both sides were determined to remain solid at the back before concentrating on going forward.
Nevertheless, last week’s victory appeared to do wonders for the hosts’ self-belief and Augsburg were the better side after the initial sparring, confidently playing the ball out from defence rather than opting for punted clearances. Markus Weinzierl’s men attacked with pace, particularly through Ji down the right wing and their bold strategy almost bore fruit when Sascha M├Âlders did well to hold up the ball in the area, pulling it back for Koo, who blasted over from close range.
Schalke looked stunned by their hosts’ fearlessness and failed to impose themselves on the game in the first half. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar – back in the side after missing out through suspension last week – had their best chance just before half-time, but his swivel and shot inside the box lacked the necessary power to beat Alex Manninger in goal. For all their superiority though, Augsburg were unable to forge an opening at the other end.
The visitors began the second period far more aggressively and attacked with greater purpose. Youngster Julian Draxler fired the Royal Blues’ first dangerous attempt of the match with a dipping effort from distance that Manninger did well to parry. Lewis Holtby followed that up shortly afterwards with a well-controlled volley from the edge of the area that flew narrowly wide.
Augsburg weathered the early storm, however, and soon regained their previous composure. The Schalke defence backed off as Koo drove forward from midfield, before finding M├Âlders on the edge of the area. The striker’s shot on the turn beat Timo Hildebrand in goal but came back off the post before being cleared in what was to be the game’s last clear-cut chance.
The result continued Augsburg’s unfortunate record of never having beaten Schalke in a competitive match, but they moved up a place to 16th in the standings nonetheless. The stalemate was an unusual occurrence for the visitors, who had not been involved in a goalless draw for 65 Bundesliga outings, dating back to February 2011.