Braunschweig - The last time Eintracht Braunschweig met SV Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga was May 25th 1985. Top-flight football has been a long time coming for Torsten Lieberknecht's side, and their return brings with it an intriguing encounter with struggling Werder Bremen on Saturday evening (kick-off 18:30 CET).
Eintracht have lost more games at home to Bremen than any other side in the Bundesliga, yet this might be the best time to put a halt to that run, as Werder haven’t won a top-flight fixture in their last 13 attempts.
Braunschweig have won every game on the opening day of the season since 2008/09, but repeating the feat this year will prove tricky. Coach Lieberknecht said it was a “privilege” to be rubbing shoulders with the elite, but is aware that such an opportunity requires commitment, determination and above all an unabating work ethic.
"We have prepared well, had a good pre-season and want to prove that we're hard to beat," explained the 40-year-old. "We want to surprise those who are writing us off - but there’s certainly hard work ahead.”
Weight of history
Members of the squad which finished second in the Bundesliga 2 last season will prepare for the challenge of the Bundesliga in a unique way, with Lieberknecht intending to show his charges a video before the match highlighting how much this season means to the Braunschweig faithful.
One new signing already understands the emotion behind the opportunity. Torsten Oehrl, the returning striker, is expected to start up front with last season's top-scorer Domi Kumbela out injured. Meanwhile, new signings Jan Hochscheidt and Simeon Jackson are expected to battle it out to start on the right of midfield.
Reverse the slump
New Bremen coach Robin Dutt has overseen a mixed pre-season, culminating in the embarrassing cup exit to 1. FC Saarbrücken. For the moment though, he has the fans’ support, as Werder’s ticket office had 12,500 applications for 2,400 tickets. Indeed, Dutt hopes that "the Braunschweig fans are really loud, just like our supporters".
New centre-half Luca Caldirola will be hoping to tighten a backline which has conceded 13 goals in its last four games, while Eljero Elia could feature after recovering from the flu, although it remains speculation with Dutt establishing that "the starting-line-up falls under competitive secrecy".
History to be written
Intrigue certainly surrounds this opening-day fixture, and it remains to be seen whether Werder’s experience can overcome their poor recent run, or if Braunschweig will be spurred on by the city’s fanatical excitement at the return of top-flight football after 28 barren years.
Eintracht Braunschweig: Davari - Elabdellaoui, Bicakcic, Dogan, Reichel - Kratz, Caligiuri - Perthel, Hochscheidt - Kruppke, Oehrl
SV Werder Bremen: Mielitz - Fritz, Prödl, Caldirola, Gebre Selassie - Makiadi, Ekici - Junuzovic - Elia, Hunt, Petersen