Bremen must prove their class
8 April 2004
HAMBURG – All eyes will be on Werder Bremen on Saturday when the Bundesliga leaders will be out to prove against lowly Eintracht Frankfurt that they have not lost their nerve in the home stretch.
Coming off a 1-1 home draw against SC Freiburg and a 4-4 the previous week at VfB Stuttgart, Bremen’s lead over reigning champions Bayern Munich has shrunk from 11 to seven points.
There are still seven games left, including a meeting between Bayern and Bremen in Munich.
But the entire Bremen camp insists that they are not getting nervous.
“Everyone knows that the game against Frankfurt is very important for us,” said midfielder Paul Stalteri.
Sports director Klaus Allofs brushes aside any talks of a crisis. “Nothing (speaks in favour of Bayern), it is all Werder. We are unbeaten in 18 games.
“There are three possible scenarios right now: going crazy, pretending to be calm or really being calm. The latter is the case with us,” said Allofs.
Allofs admitted that he would sense blood if he were in Munich’s camp and added that Bremen were well aware that the Bavarians had not won anything so far this season.
Coach Thomas Schaaf has simply had enough of the speculation.
“Bayern first congratulated us on the title. Now they want to attack again. I am tired of all this. We are looking at ourselves, not at others,” Schaaf said.
Schaaf has no injury concerns ahead of the game at Frankfurt, who are in the drop zone and need every point they can get in their bid to avoid relegation. However, they have lost their last three games without scoring a goal.
“Bremen are tough opponents, but we are looking forward to this game,” said key player Alexander Schur.
Munich, for their part, face a difficult home match with UEFA Cup aspirants Schalke 04 amid fears that a midweek trip for a friendly in Qatar may have done them more harm than good.
Playmaker Michael Ballack was one of the players who rejoiced on Bremen’s slip last weekend, saying: “Now let’s see what Bremen do next”.
But Ballack is highly doubtful on Saturday with a calf injury along with Jens Jeremies and Sammy Kuffour, who also returned with knocks from the trip to the Middle East.
Schalke sports manager Andreas Mueller said Munich were favourites because they are “far ahead of us in every aspect”, but his team is highly confident coming off a 4-1 drubbing of SV Hamburg last weekend.
In other action Saturday, VfL Wolfsburg and their new coach Eric Gerets face a difficult trip to Hertha Berlin in a battle of relegation-threatened clubs.
Lowly Kaiserslautern are at UEFA Cup bidders Bayer Leverkusen, SV Hamburg host Borussia Dortmund, mid-table Hansa Rostock take on lowly Borussia Moenchengladbach and and slumping VfL Bochum meet troubled 1860 Munich.
On Easter Sunday, SC Freiburg hope for another good result when they take on third-placed VfB Stuttgart, while bottom club Cologne are condemned to win at struggling Hanover 96 if they want to stay in the top flight.
Subject: German News