Werder Bremen, currently sitting 14th, are winless in five games since the winter break, scoring only three goals en route to claiming two points from a possible 15.
Werder Bremen host SV Hamburg tomorrow but with both teams struggling against the threat of relegation, there is much more than local pride at stake going into the 100th edition of the Bundesliga northern derby.
Bremen, sitting 14th, managed to claim a point in Frankfurt with 10 men last Sunday but that mini-triumph has been dismissed already.
“Now the focus is clearly on the north derby,” keeper Raphael Wolff told the Bremen homepage. “The coach said after the short training session on Monday that the match against Frankfurt doesn’t matter anymore. Now it’s only about the derby against Hamburg.”
Werder are winless in five games since the winter break, scoring only three goals en route to claiming two points from a possible 15. But Wolff is positive ahead of the derby.
“We are playing at home so you should always be a bit more confident. Of course Hamburg used their chance to get some important points against Dortmund,” he said. “But we don’t sense any added pressure because of that. We clearly want to pick up three points with our fans behind us.”
Werder are missing Felix Kroos and Luca Caldirola through suspension while Aleksandar Ignjovski is injured. In better news, Aaron Hunt and Clemens Fritz resumed training this week and both hope to feature.
Hamburg produced a stunning performance to defeat Dortmund in coach Mirko Slomka’s first game in charge last week but they remain in the relegation play-off place.
A win in Bremen would move them closer to safety but they have not returned victorious from a Bundesliga trip to the Weser Stadium since 2007.
The scorer of both goals in a 2-0 win that day was current captain Rafael van der Vaart but having missed the Dortmund game through injury, the midfieler could be given a new role if he can return now.
“Rafael must play more in the centre behind the striker,” Slomka told Bild on Wednesday. “He is an exceptional footballer.”
Slomka has worries over the fitness of top scorer Pierre-Michel Lasogga and in an emergency van der Vaart could even be employed as a forward.
At the upper end of the table Schalke look to bounce back from their Champions League thrashing by Real Madrid but face a difficult trip to league leaders Bayern Munich.
Bayern are currently 19 points clear of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen and will expect to maintain their mammoth unbeaten run of 47 Bundesliga games.
Should fourth-placed Schalke lose in Munich it will give Leverkusen and third-placed Dortmund the chance to strengthen their grip on the automatic Champions League places. They have home games against Mainz and Nuremberg respectively.
In tomorrow’s other games, Augsburg host Hanover and Borussia Moenchengladbach travel to bottom club Eintracht Braunschweig.
European hopefuls Hertha Berlin play Freiburg on Friday while Champions League chasers Wolfsburg travel to Hoffenheim on Sunday.
Wolfsburg are in great form having won three successive league games. They also reached the semi-finals of the German Cup, defeating next opponents Hoffenheim in the last round.
The final game on Sunday is another crucial match in the battle against relegation. Stuttgart have lost seven games in a row and another defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt could see them tumble as low as 17th depending on results elsewhere.
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