Rest still chasing Dortmund’s shadow
WERDER BREMEN defeated European champions Inter Milan in midweek and hope to carry the momentum into a Bundesliga date today at recordbreaking leaders Borussia Dortmund.
However, Thomas Schaaf ’s men face an uphill battle, given their own form, recent league history and Dortmund’s astonishing run.
Bremen have not won in Dortmund since April 2007 and have beaten them only once in the six games overall since then.
The same applies in general this season: one victory in the last six games for a modest 10th place, 21 points behind Dortmund, and without a goal in the last three away games while allowing 10.
Bremen said goodbye to European football for the season with a 3-0 win against Inter, but the Italians fielded only a reserve team given that they were already qualified for the knockout stages.
Central defender Per Mertesacker admitted that “they (Inter) didn’t really want (to play)” but nonetheless expressed his hope that the victory “will give us a boost for the league.
“We are slowly getting back on track. We have improved in defence and going forward as well,” said Mertesacker.
Bremen can only hope that Dortmund stutter for a third time at home after losing the season-opener against Bayer Leverkusen and later being held by Hoffenheim.
Dortmund have dropped no further points, winning all eight games away from home which are as much a Bundesliga record as the 40 points they have amassed from 15 games.
They hold a huge 10-point lead over Mainz 05 and are assured of topping the table into 2011 through the winter break which starts on December 19.
However, modesty prevails at Juergen Klopp’s team.
“This has never happened before. And most probably will never happen again. We know how to look at it in the bigger picture and we remain rational about it,” said midfielder Nuri Sahin.
Meanwhile, champions Bayer n Munich need to regroup yet again after a 2-0 defeat at Schalke 04 when they host St Pauli Hamburg in what is arguably the biggest possible contrast of clubs in the league.
Munich are Germany’s number one club by success and financial resources. Cash-strapped St Pauli cultivate an underdog and left-wing image and are finally back in the top flight after several seasons in the lower tiers.
St Pauli famously won the last meeting between the two, 2-1 at home in February 2002, prompting their fans to print T-shirts that said Weltpokalsiegerbesieger (Worldcupchampionbeater) on them in reference to the World Club championship that Bayern had won just a few weeks earlier.
Munich can’t afford a similar result as they languish 17 points behind Dortmund in seventh place. They have all but kissed the title goodbye but at least want to get a chance to play Champions League football for which they must finish at least third.
“It will be tough but you can put other teams under pressure with a winning streak. It is up to us,” Munich goalkeeper Joerg Butt told Thursday’s edition of Kicker sports magazine. – Sapa-dpa
IN THE HUNT: Werder Bremen’s Per Mertesacker has set his sights on hauling in league leaders Borussia Dortmund.