Goal.com previews the Sunday afternoon game between Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen with both sides desperate to win for different reasons...Fan Intervention To Inspire Bremen?
There is no dressing up the fact that Bremen are in trouble. Every week Thomas Schaaf and co must wonder when the club's fortunes will improve, only for things to get even worse.
Last weekend's 4-0 defeat in the Nord derby to rivals Hamburg was a sickening experience for all concerned with the club, especially 250 fans in particular who sought answers from the team.
When news broke that the supporters had surrounded the team coach after the game, many would have expected to hear about the discontent fans hurling abuse and causing trouble. This was not to be the case.
Instead, the pack of Bremen supporters encouraged a factual and peaceful discussion with general manager Klaus Allofs, coach Schaaf, captain Torsten Frings and his vice Per Mertesacker.
"It is absolutely correct how the fans voiced themselves. You could clearly tell their worries about the current situation. The manner in which they presented themselves was positive and gives one courage," Allofs told the club's official website after the incident.
Everyone involved with the club will hope the situation can add renewed optimism to the Bremen cause and bring everyone who cares about the team together.
What is for certain is that as the club head into Sunday's crunch home tie with Leverkusen, the supporters still believe. The fans left the team last Saturday evening with chants such as "We are Bremen", "Never second division" and "Thomas Schaaf, you are the best."
Contrasting Fortunes For Bayer And Werder
Their is certainly a contrast in fortunes between the two sides heading into Sunday's crucial game between Bremen and Leverkusen. Leverkusen come into the game on the back of a 4-2 victory over Stuttgart and a 6-0 aggregate win in the Europa League over Metalist Kharkiv to send die Werkself into the last 16.
Bremen on the otherhand suffered their heaviest defeat of the season to Northern rivals Hamburg last week, a 4-0 thrashing to send team spirit to rock bottom while there was to be no midweek European fixture following their earlier Champions League exit.
Leverkusen sit second in the table while Bremen languish down in 14th place. Jupp Heynckes' men can even boast a near full-strength squad while Werder are crippled with a lenghty list of absentees.
So does Heynckes believe the game will be a walk in the park? Of course not.
"We saw in our 4-2 win over Stuttgart how hard it is to play against established Bundesliga club’s who have got themselves into trouble and need every point. We need to go there with the necessary confidence to win the game. Nothing else counts," the veteran tactician told the club's website.
With title rivals Bayern and Dortmund also meeting this weekend, Leverkusen will be hoping to take advantage of at least ont of those sides dropping points. In current form, who's to bet against them?
Thomas Schaaf's struggling team are without several important players for the visit of Leverkusen. Captain Torsten Frings will miss the game through a one game suspension while Wesley, Naldo, Sebastian Boenisch, Felix Kroos, Christian Vander, Samuel, Onur Ayik and Daniel Jensen also miss out through injury. There is some good news for the home side with Tim Wiese returning from suspension and Claudio Pizarro expected to return to the starting line-up after shrugging off a muscular problem.
Probable Starting XI: Wiese - Schmidt, Mertesacker, Proedl, Silvestre - Hunt, Bargfrede, Fritz, Marin - Pizarro, Arnautovic
Die Werkself are relatively injury free going into the game with Bremen with Tranquillo Barnetta and Fabian Giefer the only players on the injury-list. Jupp Heynckes' men are expected to name the same team who defeated Stuttgart 4-2 last weekend meaning Michael Ballack will have to be content with a place on the bench.
Probable Starting XI: Adler - Schwaab, Hyypia, Reinartz, Kadlec - Rolfes, Vidal - Sam, Renato Augusto, Castro - Kiessling