Bremen - Werder Bremen hope to move within two points of the European qualification spots in this year's final Bundesliga fixture (kick-off 17:30 CET), as they host a confident 1. FC Nuremberg side looking to build on recent positive results.
Hecking praises Bremen's quality
"We want to end the year with a great, successful game," said Bremen's long-serving coach Thomas Schaaf, whose team has the chance to take a big step forward by closing the gap on sixth-placed 1. FSV Mainz 05.
"They have great quality," admitted Nuremberg's coach Dieter Hecking, who hinted that attacking might well be his own side's best form of defence at the Weserstadion. "[Bremen] have weaknesses in defence. My players have to make the most of that and be clinical where it counts," said the 48-year-old.
Respectable results in their last seven encounters, including victories over VfL Wolfsburg, 1899 Hoffenheim and Fortuna Düsseldorf, have given the Franconian outfit a comfortable cushion above the relegation zone. However, former Hannover 96 coach Hecking is all too aware of the "tight situation" in the Bundesliga, which is why he is keen to add another win to Nuremberg's latest streak.
Third time lucky?
"We'd like to have 22 points," continued Hecking, whose side have picked up maximum points on their last two visits to Bremen: "Why shouldn't we beat them for a third time?"
Schaaf, meanwhile, says his team, the second-youngest in the Bundesliga (average age 24.7 years) "must be more effective", urging his players to "concentrate more on their own actions, be present in front of goal and look to shoot themselves instead of crossing to others".
Hunt and Kiyotake back in action
Aaron Hunt, Bremen's joint-top goalscorer alongside Nils Petersen, will be available on Sunday after returning to training following a week out with a calf injury. "I'd like to help the team keep three points at the Weserstadion," said the 26-year-old, who believes he is capable of playing the full 90 minutes.
Likewise, Nuremberg have one of their key players available again. Hiroshi Kiyotake returns after missing the game against Düsseldorf with a fever, leaving Hecking "with a luxury" heading into the encounter.
Bremen: Mielitz - Gebre Selassie, Prödl, Sokratis, Fritz - Junuzovic - Arnautovic, Hunt, de Bruyne, Elia - Petersen
Nuremberg: R. Schäfer - Chandler, Nilsson, Klose, Pinola - Simons - Kiyotake, Feulner, Balitsch, Gebhart - Polter