Bremen - Bottom-of-the-table SV Werder Bremen go into their first home game under new head coach Viktor Skripnik hoping to maintain their recent upswing in form against fellow strugglers VfB Stuttgart in a battle between the Bundesliga’s worst backlines (kick-off 17:30 GMT/18:30 CET).
bundesliga.com is on hand to ensure you’re privy to all the pre-match rumblings from either camp ahead of the Saturday night showdown at the Weser-Stadion…
Viktor Skripnik has claimed to be “sleeping like a baby” after guiding Werder to back-to-back DFB Cup and league wins, the latter of which, a 2-1 victory against 1. FSV Mainz 05, represented their first three points of 2014/15. Stuttgart, meanwhile, are precariously perched above the and just two points better off, making this is a must-win match for both teams.
With a handful of fringe players still only able to complete light training, Skripnik, who is expected to once again deploy Ludovic Obraniak and Felix Kroos (pictured) - provider for Franco Di Santo’s second against Mainz - at either tip of his four-man midfield diamond, has recalled Eljero Elia and Nils Petersen at the expense of Luca Caldirola and Davie Selke.
Centre-back Georg Niedermeier (pictured) has been unable to train properly this week after bruising his thigh in the 4-0 loss to VfL Wolfsburg and will join long-term absentees Daniel Didavi, Mohammed Abdellaoue, Daniel Ginczek and Vedad Ibisevic on the sidelines for Saturday’s six-pointer. Reserve-team player Timo Baumgartl could feature in the Matchday squad.
Six goals in ten games, including his first-ever Bundesliga brace, have Werder fans wondering whether Franco Di Santo could be the 'next Claudio Pizarro', while his importance has not gone unnoticed by his team-mates. “He gets the maximum out of the minimum,” said Zlatko Junuzovic. “He’s a poacher who would score a lot more if we provided better service.”
Both backlines will be under the microscope on Saturday and, with Di Santo in form, it’ll be up to Antonio Rüdiger to step up to the mark following a sub-standard start to the campaign. Named in Joachim Löw’s on Friday, the 21-year-old now needs to demonstrate the qualities required of a potential national team regular at club level.
Viktor Skripnik, Bremen coach: “I’ve spent the last ten years sitting in the stands, but this time I get to walk out into the stadium from the home dressing rooms.”
Armin Veh (l.), Stuttgart coach: “I’d have nothing against a goal fest, as long as we win, but we’ve got to avoid conceding so easily otherwise we’ll have even more problems.”
Considering Bremen and Stuttgart have conceded 24 and 23 goals apiece this season - no other side has crossed the 20-goal mark - it comes as little surprise that both are languishing at the foot of the table. VfB’s form is of greater concern though, having let in 14 goals in their last four games, including the six-goal stalemate with Leverkusen and a 5-4 win over Frankfurt.
Twice in their 51-year Bundesliga history have Werder gone this far into a season without picking up a home win, but having needed eight attempts in 1970/71 and 1998/99, Skripnik’s charges will be hoping to remedy the situation at this fifth time of asking against a Stuttgart side, whose last win at the Weser-Stadion came back in 2006 with Mario Gomez scoring the winner in a 3-2 victory.
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Bremen: Wolf - Gebre Selassie, Prödl, Galvez, Garcia - F. Kroos - Fritz, Junuzovic - Obraniak - Bartels, Di Santo
Stuttgart: Kirschbaum - Klein, Schwaab, Rüdiger, G. Sakai - Oriol Romeu, Gentner - Sararer, Maxim, Kostic - Harnik
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