Schalke ready to pounce on Wolfsburg

11th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

11 November 2004 , HAMBURG - Top-of-the table Wolfsburg are looking to rebound from a 4-0 thrashing when they meet third-placed Stuttgart in Saturday's crunch Bundesliga game. But even a victory could see Erik Gerets' side lose the leadership if high-flying Schalke - behind Wolfsburg only on goals scored - book up a bigger win at home to Hertha Berlin. And with only a point separating the top four, fourth-placed Bayern Munich - away to struggling Bochum on Sunday - will leapfrog to the top if any of their

11 November 2004

HAMBURG - Top-of-the table Wolfsburg are looking to rebound from a 4-0 thrashing when they meet third-placed Stuttgart in Saturday's crunch Bundesliga game.

But even a victory could see Erik Gerets' side lose the leadership if high-flying Schalke - behind Wolfsburg only on goals scored - book up a bigger win at home to Hertha Berlin.

And with only a point separating the top four, fourth-placed Bayern Munich - away to struggling Bochum on Sunday - will leapfrog to the top if any of their rivals slip up.

Surprise side Wolfsburg are showing signs of losing their early momentum after a third successive away defeat in last week's 4-0 hammering at Nuremberg.

"I don't want to speak about discord, but it's right to say that the mood has changed in some way, has become a bit flat," midfielder Pablo Thiam said in an interview this week.

Wolfsburg will also be without the influential Argentinian midfielder Andres d'Alessandro who is suspended after being sent off against Nuremberg.

But visiting Stuttgart will also need to lift their game after a poor midweek showing in the German Cup against Bayern Munich when Matthias Sammer's side were thoroughly outplayed in a 3-0 defeat.

"We didn't show enough aggression, weren't prepared to put in the running. We would have lost to any team not just Bayern," said defender Philip Lahm.

The team to benefit could be Schalke who chalked up a club record last weekend with a sixth successive league win and are gunning for a seventh at home to Hertha Berlin.

Under new coach Ralf Rangnick, Schalke have now moved up to level on 24 points with Wolfsburg, with identical goal difference and only the goals tally separating the two sides.
Asked to explain the winning streak, Rangnick told Kicker sports magazine: "We just have good players. And they are on the way to becoming a really good team.

"If fans, players and club can be a unified whole we could cause a sensation in the Bundesliga."

Champions Werder Bremen, three points adrift of Bayern, have a home encounter with inconsistent Bayer Leverkusen, who have slipped to eighth place and are still looking for a first away win.

Sixth-placed Hanover, whose run of five successive wins was ended in Saturday's 3-0 defeat at Bayern Munich, entertain Mainz, the team a point and one place below them in the table.

Injury-hit Borussia Dortmund, knocked out of the German Cup by Hanover on Tuesday, travel to third-from-bottom Kaiserslautern desperate to avoid a further slide towards the relegation zone.

Also Saturday, struggling Freiburg - last but one in the table - are at home to midtable Arminia Bielefeld while Borussia Moenchengladbach come up against visiting Nuremberg.

Bayern Munich meanwhile travel to lowly Bochum Sunday with the team hitting a run of form and looking to be taking the sort of shape wanted by new coach Felix Magath.

Wednesday's comfortable 3-0 cup victory over Stuttgart followed last Saturday's 3-0 drubbing of Hanover.

Goalkeeper and captain Oliver Kahn said he believed the team was now beginning to understand Magath's methods and play the sort of forceful football wanted by the coach.

In Sunday's other game, bottom club Hansa Rostock meet visiting SV Hamburg in a northern derby, with Rostock still looking for a first home point after six successive defeats on their own ground.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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