Leverkusen host basement-dwellers Eintracht Braunschweig, while European hopefuls Wolfsburg play Eintracht Frankfurt at the Volkswagen Arena. Elsewhere, 1. FSV Mainz take on FC Augsburg in a clash between two teams hoping to sneak into a European place themselves. bundesliga.com looks ahead to Saturday's action...
Bayer 04 Leverkusen – Eintracht Braunschweig
Sami Hyypiä has called for his Leverkusen team to approach Saturday’s encounter with Eintracht Braunschweig with the same attitude as they did their last match against FC Augsburg. The Werkself recorded their first league win in seven attempts at the SGL Arena on Wednesday, and Hyypiä is expecting to see the same level of commitment against the basement dwellers.
“If you’re not in the right frame of mind psychologically, and if you don’t try and give your all to win, I think that’s much worse than making technical mistakes on the pitch,” said the Finn, who has no new injury concerns ahead of the game with Torsten Lieberknecht's team and could name an unchanged line-up for Saturday’s clash.
Braunschweig defender Ermin Bicakcic is likely to be available for the trip to the BayArena, despite breaking his hand in the 3-1 win over 1. FSV Mainz 05 on Tuesday. Bicakcic’s defensive partner Marcel Correira is rated as doubtful, however, after suffering a muscle injury at the Eintracht-Stadion in midweek. Correira was replaced by Deniz Dogan in the 39th minute of Tuesday’s win and has been training individually ahead of the Matchday 28 encounter.
Nonetheless, Braunschweig coach Torsten Lieberknecht is approaching the game with fourth-placed Leverkusen in a positive frame of mind. The Lions beat Hyypiä’s side 1-0 earlier in the season, and Lieberknecht believes his side are capable of pulling off another shock on Saturday. “We need to continue picking up points. Every point is vital for us, that’s why we’re aiming for victory this weekend.”
VfL Wolfsburg – Eintracht Frankfurt
Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking wants his team to pick up where they left off against SV Werder Bremen when they host Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday. The Wolves had previously gone four games without victory in the league, but they managed to get back to winning ways with a confident performance at struggling Bremen on Tuesday.
“The most important thing for us is the next game,” said Hecking at his pre-match press conference. “We’re fighting for another three points and if we do our job well, we can increase our current tally. We were a lot more solid and more disciplined against Bremen and we worked much better with the ball. We’re a side that is capable of beating most teams, but we have to make sure we play well.”
‘One win from safety’
Eagles coach Armin Veh managed to get the better of Lucien Favre for the first time on Wednesday evening. Frankfurt’s 1-0 victory over the Foals could prove vital in the race to avoid relegation from the top flight, and no-one was more delighted than Veh after seeing his team go six league games without a win prior to Wednesday’s success. “We had to win eventually,” he told Bild. “It’s nice that it happened in such an important game. I’m very proud of the way my team played.”
Frankfurt sporting director Bruno Hübner, meanwhile, believes the Eagles aren’t too far off securing their Bundesliga status for next season. “I think Eintracht will be safe with 35 points,” said the 53-year-old. Defender Alexander Madlung, who made 166 appearances for the Wolves during a six-year spell with the club, shares Hübner’s view: “If we win [at Wolfsburg], we’ll be safe.”
1. FSV Mainz 05 – FC Augsburg
Mainz coach Thomas Tuchel is set to welcome back South Korean duo Ja-Cheol Koo and Joo-Ho Park for Saturday’s clash with FC Augsburg after the pair missed Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat to Braunschweig through injury. Top scorer Shinji Okazaki, who started the loss to Braunschweig on the bench, is also likely to return to the starting line-up against the Fuggerstädter.
Tuchel admits Mainz, who had only lost to VfL Wolfsburg and FC Bayern München since the turn of the year prior to the defeat in Lower Saxony, must improve against Markus Weinzierl’s Augsburg. “It’s impossible to play so well against Bayern, then play even better against Braunschweig three days later,” said the 40-year-old. “But I’m certain we’re competitive enough and fresh enough to perform well on Saturday.”
‘The surprise team’
One player who may return to the Augsburg side for the trip to the Coface Arena is South Korean striker Dong-Won Ji. The forward, who will join Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, has struggled since his arrival in January, but feels he’s capable of returning to form once he’s given a run of games in the team.
“I’ve spent some time on the sidelines recently with a muscle injury,” said the 22-year-old. “But I hope I’ll be able to play against Mainz. We’re the surprise team in the division and want to get as many points on the board as possible. We’re going into the Mainz game confident of getting the three points. We’ll see what happens, but I think we’re capable of staying in our current position in the table.”