5 things to know about the Bundesliga
BERLIN (AP) — Derbies are in plentiful supply in the Bundesliga this weekend. Hannover hosts Eintracht Braunschweig for the first top-flight Lower Saxony derby in 37 years on Friday, Bayern Munich plays Bavarian rival Augsburg on Saturday, Mainz hosts neighboring Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, before Freiburg welcomes southern rival Stuttgart. Here are five things to know about the 12th round of games:
Hannover hosts Braunschweig for the first Lower Saxony derby since a 2-0 Hannover win on April 17, 1976. Braunschweig is bottom on its return to the Bundesliga after 28 years, four seasons after playing in the third-division. However, Torsten Lieberknecht’s side claimed its second win of the campaign last week against third-place Bayer Leverkusen and is only one point off Freiburg in the relegation playoff place. “That shows that everything is possible if we believe in ourselves and approach the cause with confidence,” Braunschweig striker Domi Kumbela said.
Hannover is arguably under more pressure with just one point from its last five games.
“No matter what our situation is, we have to win the derby,” Hannover coach Mirko Slomka said.
The club had asked the German Football League not to hold the derby on Sunday, the fourth anniversary of Germany goalkeeper Robert Enke’s suicide.
Bayern Munich president Uli Hoeness’ off-field troubles are casting a shadow over the club as it bids to set a record on it. Avoid defeat against Bavarian rival Augsburg on Saturday, and Bayern would become the first side to go 37 consecutive Bundesliga games unbeaten. Hoeness was told Monday that he will have to go on trial next March to face tax evasion charges over a Swiss bank account, and Bayern has reaffirmed its backing for the 61-year-old following his “outstanding services” to the club.
Late after Bayern’s 1-0 Champions League win at Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday, Hoeness spent more than an hour talking with coach Pep Guardiola over a bottle of Catalan red wine called ‘Terroir al Limit,’ Kicker magazine reported Thursday.
“We’re also philosophers,” Kicker quoted Hoeness as saying. “Philosophers talk about all kinds of things. Guardiola is a very intelligent man, with whom you can speak about everything. That’s why we meet from time to time. It’s a lot of fun to chat with him.”
Ruhr rivals Borussia Dortmund and Schalke both suffered setbacks in their Champions League campaigns on Wednesday. Dortmund’s seven-game winning run at home was brought to an end by Arsenal, while Schalke suffered the ignominy of a second 3-0 defeat is as many games to Chelsea.
“I’m sorry for the team,” said Schalke goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand, whose mistake allowed Samuel Eto’o to open the scoring.
“You have to say today that football isn’t always fair,” Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller said.
Dortmund hopes to bounce back and keep the pressure on leader Bayern with a win at improving Wolfsburg. Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking said Thursday that playmaker Diego is out following the rib and stomach injury sustained in last week’s win at Frankfurt.
Schalke hosts Werder Bremen, also on Saturday.
After last week’s disappointing 1-0 loss to Braunschweig, Bayer Leverkusen aims to keep up with the top two with a win over visiting Hamburger SV on Saturday.
“It’s difficult if you don’t give your all,” said Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia, who has to plan without the suspended Lars Bender.
Hamburg is coming off a defeat to Borussia Moenchengladbach, Bert van Marwijk’s first in five games as new coach.
“It’s not really my style to dice everything up. That’s not how I build confidence,” said Van Marwijk, who has to decide whether Lasse Sobiech keeps his place after his two mistakes gifted ’Gladbach a 2-0 win. “I’ll see how I feel. What’s decisive is that you improve from mistakes, not get worse.”
Hamburg is just four points above Freiburg in the relegation playoff spot.
Nuremberg is still waiting for its first victory but new coach Gertjan Verbeek’s side next travels to Moenchengladbach, which has won all five games at home this season. Efficiency has been key to ’Gladbach’s success this season, with Max Kruse, Raffael, Arango and Patrick Herrmann chipping in 23 of the side’s 25 goals, highlighting its offensive capability. Only Hoffenheim has scored more in Germany (26).
Moenchengladbach’s strength is Nuremberg’s weakness, however, and nerves are raw after last week’s 3-0 loss at home to Freiburg, without a win up to then.
“I had a good feeling despite the negative result - we were better and created many, many chances,” Verbeek said. “Video analysis confirmed it. I saw a lot of things that made me happy.”