Bremen meet Schalke indelicate Bundesliga season-opener

5th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

5 August 2004 , HAMBURG - Champions Werder Bremen meet Schalke 04 in Friday's Bundesliga season-opener, which has plenty of extra spice to it. Bremen will face last season's top league scorer Ailton and Mladen Krstajic, who switched sides in summer on free transfers after being instrumental in Bremen's first Bundesliga and cup double in club history in May. The Brazilian Ailton said he will not have second thoughts about scoring against his former team-mates. "It's like playing a World Cup final with Brazi

5 August 2004 

HAMBURG - Champions Werder Bremen meet Schalke 04 in Friday's Bundesliga season-opener, which has plenty of extra spice to it.

Bremen will face last season's top league scorer Ailton and Mladen Krstajic, who switched sides in summer on free transfers after being instrumental in Bremen's first Bundesliga and cup double in club history in May.

The Brazilian Ailton said he will not have second thoughts about scoring against his former team-mates.

"It's like playing a World Cup final with Brazil against Germany. I would score if I got the chance. I am a professional and want to have the same success with Schalke that I had with Bremen," vowed Ailton.

Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf said his side enjoyed an "almost perfect season", but it will be under threat this season from Bayern Munich, who start their quest to overcome a season without any title at SV Hamburg on Saturday.

Bremen got a first taste of Bayern's strength in Monday's league cup final, in which Munich prevailed 3-2.

"I want to be first after the 34th (and final) round of play," vowed new coach Felix Magath, who took over from Ottmar Hitzfeld.

Munich have splashed out a league-record 25.5 million euros (30.6 million dollars) for new hirings Lucio, Torsten Frings, Vahid Hashemian and Andreas Goerlitz to strengthen their squad.

An overwhelming majority of 14 league coaches named Munich favourites to win a 19th Bundesliga title.

Bremen, by contrast, was only named by six trainers as a title contender, but Schaaf hopes for another miracle run with new striker Miroslav Klose.

"It will give us a lot of motivation to confirm our titles. In addition there is the new challenge in the form of the Champions League and we have new players as well," said Schaaf.

Apart from Munich and Hamburg, who spent 10.5 million euros on the transfer market for the likes of Emile Mpenza and Benjamin Lauth, all other clubs were cautious on the transfer market.

Bundesliga clubs spent only a little over 65 million euros on new players although they generated a record income from main sponsors (99 million euros) and sold a record 337,800 season tickets.

Free transfers such as those at Schalke were common, with Bayer Leverkusen getting Roque Junior from AC Milan at no cost to make up for the loss of Lucio to Munich.

Former Germany players Christian Ziege (Moenchengladbach), Markus Babbel (Stuttgart), Carsten Jancker and Christian Nerlinger (both Kaiserslautern) return to the Bundesliga from engagements abroad.

Hertha Berlin will host VfL Bochum in the freshly renovated Olympic stadium, which will also host the 2006 World Cup final.

Kaiserslautern meet promoted Nuremberg, SC Freiburg take on Hansa Rostock, promoted Arminia Bielefeld play Borussia Moenchengladbach, Leverkusen host Hanover 96 and Borussia Dortmund play VfL Wolfsburg.

VfB Stuttgart take on Mainz 05, who are promoted into the top flight for the first time and don't plan to be cannon fodder.

"It is our aim to win points wherever we can. Naturally we want to avoid demotion," said Mainz coach Juergen Klopp.

The season runs until 21 May with a winter break from 12 December until 22 January.

DPA

Subject: German news

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