'Courage' called for as Kissinger's team Fuerth host Bayern Munich

AFP , Thursday 23 Sep 2021

Stefan Leitl
Greuther Fuerth head coach Stefan Leitl says his side must show 'courage' against Bayern Munich in Friday's David versus Goliath Bundesliga clash (AFP)

Bayern Munich may have accumulated 31 German titles and six European crowns in their glorious history but Friday's modest opponents Greuther Fuerth can at least boast the support of the former right-hand man of two US presidents, Henry Kissinger.

"It's definitely the biggest challenge, but we want to approach it with a lot of joy," said Fuerth head coach Stefan Leitl.

"We can let ourselves off the leash and play football with courage."

This is only Fuerth's second season in Germany's top flight since their debut in 2012/13, when Kissinger flew over from America just to watch a home game.

The 98-year-old, who served under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, was born in Fuerth, which is situated near Nuremberg.

His Jewish family fled Nazi Germany in 1938, but not before he had watched Greuther Fuerth play as a boy.

"I wish Fuerth win the title," Kissinger, a controversial winner of the Nobel Prize, said during his September 2012 visit, but his beloved club was relegated in last place at the end of their first Bundesliga season.

Fuerth lost 3-0 and 2-0 during the 2012/13 season to a Bayern team on their way to winning the treble of Bundesliga, German Cup and Champions League titles.

A sell-out crowd of 11,370 is expected for Friday's game at Fuerth's Sportpark Ronhof stadium, an intimate arena compared to Bayern's 75,000-capacity Allianz Arena.

The two clubs inhabit the same league but do not mix in the same circles.

Bayern's star-studded squad is estimated to be worth 852 million euros ($1 billion) - 21 times the value of their Fuerth counterparts.

They are the defending Bundesliga champions and have already scored 38 goals in eight games in all competitions so far this season.

Bayern sit top of the table with 13 points from a possible 15 and are chasing a tenth straight German league title to cap a decade of domination in the Bundesliga.

In contrast, Fuerth just hope to avoid a repeat of Bayern's 7-0 hammering of Bochum last Saturday.

Their single league point so far came from a home draw against Bielefeld after returning to the Bundesliga following promotion last season.

"We're a different calibre to Barcelona," joked Leitl, referring to Bayern's recent 3-0 win at Barca in the Champions League.

Leitl, who spent three years as a youth player at Bayern but never appeared for the first team, says his team has nothing to lose.

"This is a beautiful thing. One of the best teams in the world is playing here against us," he said.

"We should enjoy it, try to stay compact and have a physical presence for as long as possible to annoy them."

The 44-year-old refuses to be caught off balance by the gulf in class.

"I get dizzy about other things," he said, insisting Fuerth earned their place in the Bundesliga.

"We weren't promoted for free. I'm calm and relaxed - and have confidence in my team."

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