Leverkusen hoping to keep top spot

9th September 2004, Comments 0 comments

9 September 2004, HAMBURG - Bayer Leverkusen go into Saturday's Bundesliga clash at rookies Mainz 05 defending top place, knowing that any slip up will allow any of a chasing pack to take over at the top. Leverkusen's coach Klaus Augenthaler finds himself in the lucky position that he has a full squad available and could even play German defender Jens Nowotny, who has recovered from an injury. Mainz, who started the season as virtual no-hopers, have shown though that they are not going down without a fight

9 September 2004

HAMBURG - Bayer Leverkusen go into Saturday's Bundesliga clash at rookies Mainz 05 defending top place, knowing that any slip up will allow any of a chasing pack to take over at the top.

Leverkusen's coach Klaus Augenthaler finds himself in the lucky position that he has a full squad available and could even play German defender Jens Nowotny, who has recovered from an injury.

Mainz, who started the season as virtual no-hopers, have shown though that they are not going down without a fight and will challenge the log leaders all the way.

Second-placed VfB Stuttgart, who - like Leverkusen - are on seven points, should have an easier fixture at home against a struggling SV Hamburg side.

Hamburg's coach Klaus Toppmoeller received a further set-back this week when Swiss midfielder Raphael Wicky picked up an injury that will rule him out for three weeks. Already out is German international striker Benjamin Lauth.

Defending champions Werder Bremen, who disappointed in their last league match, losing at home against VfL Wolfsburg, travel to Borussia Moenchengladbach.

Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf said that he is going into the game with optimism. "Gustavo Nery, Paul Stalteri and Nelson Valdez have all recovered from injuries and should be in the squad for the game."

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich, who were desperately trying to shed the "FC Hollywood" image, seem to have fallen back into the very same areas that last year cost them the title.

In-figthing and a bunch of star players (Brazilian Lucio and Paraguayan Roque Santa Cruz) who are criticising the fact that they are not playing, are not exactly the kind of preparations that a club would want ahead of a league game.

Coach Felix Magath has tried to smooth things over by saying that he accepts that South American players react much more emotionally than other players. He has also apologised to the whole squad for saying that players seemed more interested in their hair than in playing.

The former Champions League winners, who find themselves in tenth place in the table, are at home against Arminia Bielefeld and should pick up three points.

Surprise team Wolfsburg, who are fourth, are at home against Schalke. The team from northern Germany lost their first game at home, but won both matches on the road. They are now hoping to add their first three points from a home game.

In other matches on Saturday, VfL Bochum face Borussia Dortmund in a Rhein derby, while Nuremberg take on Hertha Berlin.

On Sunday, Hansa Rostock face bottom club Kaiserslautern, while Hanover face SC Freiburg.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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