Stuttgart face tough Bochum test
27 November 2003 ,
27 November 2003
HAMBURG - Bundesliga leaders VfB Stuttgart face a tough weekend test at VfL Bochum as they aim to stretch their unbeaten season run to 14 games.
Stuttgart will have plenty of morale having clinched a mid-week 1-0 victory in the European Champions League against Glasgow Rangers.
Sixth-placed Bochum are yet to lose at home in the campaign. They handed Bayer Leverkusen their only defeat so far and recently hammered heavyweights Borussia Dortmund 4-0.
They played poorly, however, in Saturday's 3-1 defeat at second- placed Werder Bremen, but key defender Frank Fahrenhorst (who will move to Bremen next season) is still upbeat.
"We are playing against the undefeated league leader. We haven't lost at home. We want to stretch this run. We want to establish ourselves in the upper regions of the standings." The team has the potential to reach the UEFA Cup, he added.
However, Stuttgart have so much momentum going on and off the pitch that at least a draw seems possible.
"We are on cloud nine," said midfielder Horst Heldt after the Glasgow game.
The latest news were indications that their Germany striker Kevin Kuranyi will stay at the club just like team-mate Andreas Hinkel and not move elsewhere.
Bremen, meanwhile, face a trip to northern rivals SV Hamburg, who have started a mini-comeback from a dreadful season start by winning their last two games under new coach Klaus Toppmoeller.
"Werder are the clear favourites," said Toppmoeller, whose team faces a tough week as the Bremen game is followed by a cup match at Bayern Munich and a league outing to Stuttgart.
Number 3 Leverkusen have what appears an easy task at home against 1860 Munich, and so do fourth-placed champions Bayern Munich, who host bottom club Cologne.
Bayern have been far from convincing in recent weeks and can not afford to lose further ground on the league leaders.
But French defender Bixente Lizarazu expressed his hope that a hard-fought midweek 0-0 draw at Celtic Glasgow in the Champions League could have set a signal for better games to come.
"We must feel strong on defence. If you feel the defensive power of a team it is easier to play football. A good defence is the base for success at Bayern Munich," said Lizarazu.
The other Saturday games are Hanover 96 vs. SC Freiburg and Eintracht Frankfurt vs. VfL Wolfsburg.
Sunday sees a meeting between Hertha Berlin and Schalke, two clubs who were tipped to play for the top but now rank 15th and 13th, respectively.
Borussia Dortmund, who were like Schalke engaged in UEFA Cup action on Thursday night, are at Hansa Rostock.
Subject: German news