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Focus on Fortuna Düsseldorf
Analysing a team before the season even starts is never easy – an issue which effects Torsten Lieberknecht just as much as it does Fortuna trainer Friedhelm Funkel. That also applies to setting goals for the season – although the side from the banks of the River Rhine are already clear about theirs. Having finished in eleventh place last time around, Fortuna are now gunning for a place in the top-third. In the opinion of many experts, the Dusseldorf club be a good bet for the promotion race.
Having scored just 37 goals in the previous season, the club’s problems were clearly in the attacking areas – which proved the focus of their activities on the transfer market during the summer. Three experienced strikers came to the call of Fortuna. In Rouwen Hennings, an on-loan goal-getter from last season signed on permanently in Dusseldorf, whilst former Löwe Havard Nielsen (Sport-Club Freiburg) and Emir Kujovic (KAA Gent) were also brought in. The trio have the task of providing more punch up front and giving the fans more to cheer about. Two further renowned signings were made in central-defender Andre Hoffmann and left full-back Niko Gießelmann. Davor Lovren, Florian Neuhaus and Karlo Majic are all young players with prospects, intended to put pressure on the established individuals.
The frame-work remains
Along with the new signings, the club were also able to maintain the bulk of the squad from last season, with the likes of Michael Rensing, Kaan Ayhan, Marcel Sobottka and Ihlas Bebou all pulling on the Red & White again this season. Particularly Bebou’s decision to stay on was welcomed, as the youngster had apparently captured the attention of several Bundesliga clubs – and no wonder, with the pacy attacker from Togo notching up 15 scorer-points during the 2016/2017 season. The leader in the Fortuna pack is undoubtedly Oliver Fink, who has already notched up over 200 competitive appearances in Germany’s second-flight.
Head-coach Funkel has afforded himself a good look at his squad in eight test friendlies. The Fortuna attack fired up their cylinders against lower-level sides, but also suffered a couple of defeats, being beaten 0-2 both by top-flight teams Brighton & Hove (England) and RSC Charleroi (Belgium), before earning a 1-0 victory over Czech club Brünn. In the opinion of Funkel, friendlies are just friendlies, during which the coach has the opportunity to try out different things. Funkel considers a placement amongst the top six realistic, provided his squad remains injury free. The experienced coach however sees the Löwen as the absolute favourites to claim a direct promotion spot. It remains to be seen as to how right he is!
Photo: Eibner Pressefoto