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Hobbled Bremen Play Catch-up in Two-Horse Championship Race

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Hobbled Bremen Play Catch-up in Two-Horse Championship Race

Postby Miss Dangerous » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:02 pm

It's been a close championship so far but as the Bundesliga teams turn the winter corner into the final stretch, it looks more like a two-horse race. Bremen are trailing Schalke and need a win this weekend to keep pace.

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Schalke have battled through the title congestion to lead the Bundesliga

Werder Bremen need to rebound quickly from last week's loss against Schalke 04 if they don't want to lose further ground on the new league leaders.

Schalke won 2-0 in Bremen last Sunday to dethrone the northern Germans atop the standings with a three-point advantage.

The margin could double to six on Saturday as Schalke are at home against Hertha Berlin while Bremen visit third-placed VfB Stuttgart.

Bremen have not lost in Stuttgart in five years, but this time around the hosts must be favored, and not just because they won the first season meeting in Bremen.

"The atmosphere in the team is great, everyone is ambitious and we have the dedication to be successful," said defender Roberto Hilbert.

Stuttgart forward Mario Gomez is full of confidence after scoring in his first international game for Germany on Wednesday in a 3-1 victory over Switzerland, a match that Bremen's national team top striker Miroslav Klose missed because of a thumb injury.

Problems home and away destabilize Bremen

Klose is also doubtful for Saturday's game and so is the form of Bremen playmaker Diego after the midweek arrest of his father in Brazil on suspicion of attempted homicide. Diego, however, will not be returning to his home country and will stay in Bremen to concentrate on Werder's push for the league title.

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Klose and Diego have different problems this week

"After talking to my father I know that the situation is in good hands with his lawyers," the midfielder told reporters this week. "It is a problem for my family far away in Brazil. I am sure that it won't have a negative effect on me."

Schalke, meanwhile, want to continue their rich vein of form against Hertha, a run which has seen them unbeaten in a dozen league matches.

Sports director Andreas Müller said that the team is only concentrating on the game with fifth-placed Hertha, but forward Gerald Asamoah is aware that Schalke could win the title at last after missing out narrowly against Bayern Munich in 2001.

"It was a mental thing," Asamoah said. "We were just happy to be high up (in 2001). Now we want the title."

Good ship Bayern listing in unknown waters

Current titleholders Bayern Munich, for their part, are reeling after Ottmar Hitzfeld's return as coach in succession to Felix Magath resulted in a 3-0 loss in Nuremberg. The champions now trail Schalke by 11 points and cannot afford another setback when they host Arminia Bielefeld on Sunday. :-k

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Hitzfeld may not stick around in Bavaria past May

"Right now third place (for Champions League qualifying) is our aim," said captain Oliver Kahn. "We cannot lose again and have to start a winning streak."

Bayern have all the makings of a club all at sea. The players are low on confidence, the gap between them and the leaders continues to grow and the side that prides itself on its behind-the-scenes stability is listing. :-s

Hitzfeld has made it clear that he is in to steady the ship only until the end of the season, leaving the question of who will steer Bayern after that hanging in the air.

As ambitious as ever, the Munich hierarchy have already made it known that if Chelsea's volatile but successful boss Jose Morinho decides his future lies somewhere other than the English Premiership champions next season, Bavaria and the Bundesliga may be alternatives he should consider. Failing that, Bayern are likely to keep working on Hitzfeld to change his mind and sign a contract extension.

Hamburg running out of time in basement battle

Other clubs in need of a winning streak are bottom club SV Hamburg and their visitors Saturday Borussia Dortmund.

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Thomas Doll paid the price for Hamburg's decline

Hamburg have just one win this season and lost their first game with new coach Huub Stevens in Berlin last weekend. Dortmund beat Munich two weeks ago but then lost against Mainz and Stuttgart under Jürgen Röber, who took over as coach in the winter break.

Elsewhere in the Bundesliga on Saturday, Bayer Leverkusen play host to Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Mönchengladbach entertain local rivals Alemannia Aachen, and Energie Cottbus travel to Mainz. VfL Bochum entertain Nuremberg on Sunday. :-$

Deutsche Welle
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Postby Miss Dangerous » Sat Feb 10, 2007 2:18 pm

Hanover 96 twice came back from a goal behind to draw 2-2 with VfL Wolfsburg in a scrappy Lower Saxony derby in the Bundesliga on Friday. :shock:

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Wolfsburg's Spanish striker Diego Klimowicz gave them the lead in the third minute, sidefooting home after goalkeeper Robert Enke had blocked Marcelinho's low drive.

Hanover, who had scored nine goals in their last two league matches, equalised after 22 minutes when Hanno Balitsch slammed a loose ball through Klimowicz's legs into the net from close range.

Brazilian Marcelinho was again involved when Wolfsburg retook the lead three minutes later, squaring the ball into Jacek Krzynowek's path for the Polish midfielder to drive a left-foot shot high into the goal from the edge of the box.

Defender Frank Fahrenhorst made it 2-2 in the 62nd minute, bundling the ball home with his thigh. 8-[

:idea: Despite sustained pressure on the Wolfsburg goal and a number of clear chances, Hanover were unable to find a winner and remain eighth in the table ahead of the weekend's other matches. Wolfsburg move up one place to 10th.
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