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Bremen sets sights on German title

6 May 2004

BERLIN – Werder Bremen are out to hand Bayern Munich the ultimate humiliation by clinching their fourth Bundesliga title in a showdown between the two teams in Munich on Saturday.

Bremen striker Ivan Klasnic said earlier in the week that getting the title in the Olympic Stadium would be “immensely satisfying”.

There are plenty of facts that speak in Bremen’s favour.

“We lead Munich by six points, we play good football, we are undefeated in 22 games,” said Bremen defender Valerien Ismael in an interview with Kicker sports magazine published on Thursday.

Bremen also have a superior goal difference of 12 which means that they would also be all but assured of the league title with a draw. There are two rounds of play left after the weekend.

They have won two of the last three games in Olympic Stadium and drawn the other, with Munich’s last home win dating back to 2000.

Bremen are flying high after last week’s 6-0 demolition of SV Hamburg while Munich struggled in their 2-1 win at relegated Cologne.

In addition, Munich fears for the participation of star striker Roy Makaay due to a flu and also have playmaker Michael Ballack in pain with knee and shinbone problems.

“We may only know about Roy Makaay’s state of fitness in the final hours before the game,” said coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

The Dutch marksman Makaay is Munich’s most reliable striker with 22 goals, but even in this area Bremen have the upper hand as their Brazilian Ailton leads the league with 26 goals.

Munich have not fully given up their title ambitions as a victory would draw them within three points. They will then hope that Bremen will show nerves in the final games.

“We need a victory to break Bremen’s confidence in the final two games,” defender Bixente Lizarazu told Kicker.

Munich will hope for a similar miracle as in 1986.

In the penultimate round of that season, Bremen’s Michael Kutzop could have clinched the title with a last-minute penalty against Munich. However, he fired against the post in a 0-0 draw and Munich stole the trophy in the final round a week later.

The title showdown towers over all other action on the weekend.

But there is also plenty to play for in the other games, especially in the lowlands of the standings where six teams are in danger of joining Cologne into the second division. Three teams are relegated in total.

Hanover 96 can take a giant step towards safety if they beat second-from the bottom Eintracht Frankfurt.

Number 16 1860 Munich are at Hansa Rostock and Kaiserslautern must win against VfL Wolfsburg.

Borussia Moenchengladbach and Hertha Berlin face tricky home games against UEFA Cup aspirants Schalke 04 and Borussia Dortmund, respectively.

Of the other UEFA Cup contenders, Bayer Leverkusen host Cologne and VfL Bochum meet SC Freiburg.

The final match brings together battered Hamburg and VfB Stuttgart, who have not given up hope of stealing second place and with it direct Champions League qualification from Bayern Munich.


Subject: German news