Expatica news

Bremen to spend Christmas at the top

15 December 2003

Hamburg – Werder Bremen look to spend Christmas atop the Bundesliga standings with a good showing against Hansa Rostock on Tuesday, but will not start dreaming about a fourth league title.

“It would be wonderful if we could finish the first round in first place,” said defender Fabian Ernst.

Champions Bayern Munich, by contrast, simply hope that their deficit won’t be bigger than the current four points after their trip to Freiburg, as they aim to attack the top when the league resumes on 31 January.

Bremen snatched first place last weekend with an impressive 3-1 victory at third-placed Bayer Leverkusen. They took over first place from VfB Stuttgart, whose 1-0 defeat in Munich was their first of the season.

Stuttgart aim to pick up the pieces on Wednesday against Leverkusen, who also badly need success again after four winless games dropped them four points behind Bremen.

The Bremen camp is doing its best to end any euphoria and title dreams at this stage. After all, they have in the past two years slumped in the second half of the season.

“We may be the title favourite for the media. But there is no reason for us to claim the same,” said French playmaker Johan Micoud, who is suspended after being sent off in Leverkusen.

“All that counts for us is qualifying for Europe. We can possibly talk about higher aims some four weeks before the end.”

Coach Thomas Schaaf is cautiously optimistic that Bremen, who boast the league’s best attack with 42 goals and the Bundesliga topscorer from Ailton’s 15 strikes, can do better than in the past years.

“We want to do better this season in the second part of the campaign,” said Schaaf.

But first comes the game against Rostock, who are undefeated in six games and have won their last two away games.

Munich held a six-point lead at the halfway mark last year, but are now just waiting to end a so far indifferent season and regroup for the second half.

“Bayern are normally much stronger in the second half of the season,” said coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.

But first comes the trip to Freiburg where Munich want to end the year in the best possible way. Freiburg won the first three meetings between the two on their home ground, but not again in the following five encounters.

The other games are Eintracht Frankfurt vs. SV Hamburg, Cologne vs. Hertha Berlin (Tuesday), Hanover 96 vs. VfL Bochum, 1860 Munich vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach, Schalke 04 vs. VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Dortmund vs. Kaiserslautern (Wednesday).


Subject: German news