Thomas Schaaf's Werder Bremen are out to stop the rot against Lucien Favre's hot and cold Borussia Mönchengladbach at the Weser-Stadion on Saturday evening (kick-off 18:30CET).
Out of luck
Seven games in to the new season, the hosts find themselves five points behind the sought-after European places and just two points clear of the bottom two, after back-to-back league defeats.
The fact that both sides have had to rebuild and, in some ways, start again following the departures of several integral players during the summer months partly explains the misfortunes of both clubs, who also share a number of other similarities aside from their respective pre-season upheavals.
Both also have designs on European football next season, but neither are quite having the rub of the green, despite picking much-needed wins before the international break. "We played well against Borussia Dortmund, Hannover 96 and Hamburger SV, but the results haven't shown that," lamented former Bremen star Marco Bode.
While Bremen saw off FC Augsburg on Matchday 7, Mönchengladbach put together a fine display that handed Eintracht Frankfurt their firts Bundesliga defeat of the campaign. However, their chances of repeating last term's top-busting finish appear pretty slim on current form, with Favre's men presently stuck in mid-table. "The sun just isn't shining on us at the moment," said the coach of his team's current situation.
Still, despite the apparent presence of dark clouds over Borussia Park, there were plenty of positives to be taken from the Frankfurt win, a compact defensive effort being one of them. "If we keep a clean sheet for long enough, our confidence will grow, but if we forget the basics, Bremen will cause us problems", added defender Martin Stranzl.
25-year barren spell
Probems on the day or not, Gladbach make the short trip north having to contend with a 25-year barren spell of results on the Weser. Last season's corresponding encounter turned out to be a real humdinger, with the two sides playing out a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw which allowed Bremen to go some way to atoning for the 5-0 mauling on Gladbach soil five months earlier.
Hoping to carry the indian sign against the Foals on Saturday is Bremen striker Joseph Akpala, who returned to training on Thursday after a muscle tear. "Right now everything's going well," he declared. Sebastian Prödl's involvement is in doubt, while Gladbach coach Favre's preparations have been disrupted by fitness concerns over creative spark Juan Arango. However, winger Patrick Herrmann could be in line for a return after training with the first team once again following injury.
SV Werder Bremen: Mielitz - Fritz, Prödl (Lukimya), Sokratis, Schmitz - Arnautovic, De Bruyne Junuzovic, Hunt, Elia - Akpala
Borussia Mönchengladbach: ter Stegen - Jantschke, Stranzl, Dominguez, Daems - Rupp, Nordveit, Marx, Arango (De Camargo), Hrgota - de Jong