Bremen - Had anyone thought last August that SV Werder Bremen’s home clash with Eintracht Frankfurt on the penultimate weekend of the season would be all about one team’s European ambitions and the other’s desperation to avoid relegation, few would have predicted that it would have been the home team fighting for survival.
Rocking Weser Stadion
Promoted Frankfurt have not looked back after making a breathtaking start to the season with 16 points from their first six matches, and they are now on the verge of clinching a place in Europe next season. “We would be delighted if we were to make it,” said their coach Armin Veh. “Everybody would be totally happy qualifying for the Europa League.”
Bremen, on the other hand, find themselves in the more unfamiliar territory just three points above the bottom three. “They’re going to try to be very aggressive and press us early,” predicted Veh. “We’re going to have to be as focused in this game as in any other.” And Veh also expects the sold-out Weser Stadion to lend Bremen a hand.
“I think it’s great the way the fans have got behind their club and [coach] Thomas Schaaf and expressed this unity publicly,” he said. “That’s a positive reaction that you don’t see all that often.” Indeed, the Weser Stadion was turned into a sea of green and white a week ago for the 2-2 draw against Hoffenheim.
Cauldron of emotions
The atmosphere should be similar on Saturday with the stadium announcer Arnd Ziegler telling bundesliga.com that he expects the banks of the Weser to be bouncing again. “Despite the late equaliser against Hoffenheim, the feeling is the fans want to do it all over again,” he said. “The players were motivated and it was more fun for the fans too to be sat in a real cauldron of activity. That is why I expect them to let their emotions loose again against Frankfurt.”
Those emotions should be positive rather than negative, although Ziegler has also contemplated the scenario of a defeat. In that case, Bremen’s fate would be decided on the final weekend of the season at 1. FC Nuremberg, where they cannot count on such a sizeable backing. “Of course I also have some fear that things could go wrong,” he said. “But I have a good feeling. We’ve got a good team and we’ll stay up.”
This Saturday at least, Bremen can count on Aleksandar Ignjovski after injury, but Eintracht top scorer Alexander Meier is a major doubt after sitting out a number of training sessions during the course of the week.
“His availability is hanging in the balance. Whether he travels to Bremen or not depends on how he feels,” said Veh. Pirmin Schwegler, though, is definitely out: “maybe he will be fit to play Wolfsburg [next week], but he’s staying at home.”
Bremen: Mielitz - Fritz, Prödl, Sokratis, Ignjovski - Kroos, Bargfrede - de Bruyne, Hunt, Öz. Yildirim - Petersen
Frankfurt: Nikolov - Jung, Zambrano, Anderson, Oczipka - Rode, Russ - Aigner, Meier, Inui - Lakic