Despite failing to win a single game before the winter break, Nürnberg are rapidly climbing the Bundesliga table after winning four of their last five games.
In October, Nürnberg appointed eccentric Dutchman Gertjan Verbeek as their manager, with the club sat third bottom, after accumulating just five points from their opening eight games.
Unsurprisingly, former boss Michael Wiesinger was sacked the day after their embarrassing 5-0 home defeat to Hamburg, courtesy of an eight-minute hat-trick by Pierre Michel Lasogga, and additional goals by Rafael Van Der Vaart and Tolgay Arslan.
Nürnberg sporting director Martin Bader stated: “The recent games showed that no consistent upward trend is developing. It was a very difficult decision, but in the interest of 1. FC Nürnberg we feel forced to act.”
Evidently, Verbeek was brought in to steady the sinking ship, although he failed to win any of the remaining nine games prior to the winter break. Instead, Nürnberg managed to scrape six points with a consistent stream of draws.
When the Bundesliga returned on January 25th, Nürnberg put Hoffenheim to the sword, by pummeling them 4-0 at the Frankenstadion, helped by a double from Josip Drmić.
Nevertheless, nobody could have predicted the result as Verbeek’s men arrived at Hertha Berlin’s Olympiastadion, especially after Hertha’s hotshot Adrián Ramos opened the scoring after just four minutes. Yet Nürnberg proved their dogged resilience to win 3-1, courtesy of another late double from Drmić.
Unsurprisingly, Nürnberg were then convincingly beaten 2-0 by Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich. Nonetheless, Verbeek’s side then travelled to a sold out SGL Arena to play high-flying Augsburg. Once again, Drmić stunned the opposition with a 65th minute goal, which helped Nurnberg escape with all three points.
Last week, Nürnberg hosted bottom of the league side Eintracht Braunschweig as the bookies clear favourites to win. An observation that lasted 32 minutes, after Nürnberg’s Per Nilsson was sent off for a professional foul. In turn, Braunschweig seized the initiative as Domi Kumbela gave them the 1-0 lead. However, the game changed after Kumbela had a penalty saved by the heroic Rafael Schäfer.
Consequently, Verbeek’s side came out for the second-half all guns blazing. Two minutes after the restart Nürnberg found themselves 2-1 ahead, with quick-fire goals by Hiroshi Kiyotake and Tomas Pekhart.
Surprisingly, Braunschweig were awarded another penalty, this time Schäfer denied Ermin Bičakčić. Additionally, Kiyotake also missed a penalty five minutes later. In turn, creating a historical tie, in which the Bundesliga witnessed the first time three penalties had been saved in one game.
Next, Nürnberg travel to the imposing Westfalenstadion to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund, who will be aiming to eradicate the memories of their shambolic performance against Hamburg who comfortably disposed of them in a 3-0 victory last week.
Although Klopp’s side are a different beast in front of Die Gelbe Wand, Nürnberg will be targeting a hard-fought draw, in order to continue their surge of confidence going into their crunch game against fellow strugglers Werder Bremen.
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