Borussia Mönchengladbach host Werder Bremen at the Borussia Park on Saturday with both sides in need of the three points. The Fohlen have yet to secure any points yet, while Werder have had a stuttering start with two draws.
Time To Believe
Despite starting the season with two successive defeats, the theme of the week at Mönchengladbach is ‘belief’. The club were crowned second division champions last season with only four losses all season, so they find themselves in unfamiliar territory at the moment.
Gladbach were blown away by three first half goals in their opening fixture against Stuttgart and then went down to a narrow 1-0 loss to fellow promoted side Hoffenheim last weekend, which has left them rooted to the bottom of the table with no points.
"Last season we topped the table for long periods. Now the players have to maintain their confidence in their own ability" explained trainer Jos Luhukay.
Those sentiments were echoed by Belgian defender Filip Daems. "There's no need to go over the top now or start analysing things too much. We've only played two games after all and I'm convinced things will go better on Saturday."
Sporting director Christian Ziege believes the Fohlen just have to build on the positives from the previous two games, and not dwell too much on the fact that they remain the only Bundesliga club not to have claimed any points yet.
"It isn't as if we've just woken up from a dream" he said. "We've been saying right from the beginning that this season is all about avoiding relegation. And that's not going to change.
"We simply have to look at the positives – against Stuttgart we created a lot of good chances."
Werder Bremen are a quality side just like Stuttgart, and the home side will be hoping for a better performance and a better result.
Time For Three Points
Following two successive draws, the time has come for Werder Bremen to step up and claim their first three points of the season. A disappointing point apiece away to Bielefeld was followed up last Saturday with a 1-1 draw against title rivals Schalke.
It’s not doom and gloom at the Weser Stadion yet but the club know that three points will be just what they need to jump-start their season.
A similar poor start last season saw them draw their opener before losing 4-0 to Bayern. A victory in their third game away to Nürnberg gave them a boost and they went on to finish level on points with Bayern at the Winter break.
Werder haven’t had the best of records in Mönchengladbach in recent years, but trainer Thomas Schaaf will be looking to change that this weekend.
“We’ve already experienced a few games in Gladbach, where we have played well but they’ve got their noses in front. We have to play our own game” he stressed
“We also have to careful when attacking not to be counter-attacked. Their fast counters were the root of the past few victories over us.”
Werder will have talisman Diego back in action after the Brazilian missed the opening two fixtures because he had skipped off to the Olympics- albeit against the club’s wishes.
23/08/08 v 1899 Hoffenheim (a) LOST 1-0 (Bundesliga)
17/08/08 v VfB Stuttgart (h) LOST 1-3 (Bundesliga)
09/08/08 v VfB Fichte Bielefeld (a) WON 1-8 (German Cup)
02/08/08 v Valencia (h) WON 4-2 (Friendly)
29/07/08 v FC Kleve (a) WON 7-1 (Friendly)
26/07/08 v TuS Koblenz (a) LOST 1-0 (Friendly)
23/08/08 v Schalke (h) DREW 1-1 (Bundesliga)
16/08/08 v Arminia Bielefeld (a) DREW 1-1 (Bundesliga)
12/08/08 v Esbjerg (a) WON 0-3 (Friendly)
09/08/08 v Eintracht Nordhorn (a) WON 3-9 (German Cup)
05/08/08 v Levski Sofia (a) DREW 0-0 (Friendly)
02/08/08 v Trabzonspor (h) LOST 1-3 (Friendly)
Head to head record in Mönchengladbach:
25/02/07 Borussia M'gladbach 2 Werder Bremen 2
20/09/05 Borussia M'gladbach 2 Werder Bremen 1
11/09/04 Borussia M'gladbach 3 Werder Bremen 1
07/02/04 Borussia M'gladbach 1 Werder Bremen 2
24/05/03 Borussia M'gladbach 4 Werder Bremen 1
02/03/02 Borussia M'gladbach 1 Werder Bremen 0
Borussia will be without Steve Gohouri (thigh strain) and Sebastian Schachten (in rehab after knee surgery) for the visit of Werder. It is also unlikely that Sebastian Svard will be fit enough to play. The Dane turned over on his left ankle in training in the week and suffered a severe ligament sprain.
Trainer Luhukay is however reluctant to judge whether Borussia skipper Oliver Neuville will be fit enough to start against Bremen after his brief appearance on Saturday.
"Oli has to be patient, he knows that himself. We shouldn't be looking just to the Bremen game, we have to think long-term."
Probable starting XI: Heimeroth, Ndjeng, Brouwers, Daems, Jaures, Paauwe, Alberman, Matmour, Rösler, Marin, Friend
Werder welcome back midfielder Diego back from the Olympics and he should go straight into the team at the expense of the unfortunate Mesut Özil, who performed so well last week against Schalke.
Aaron Hunt and Per Mertesacker are still on the sidelines injured, so trainer Thomas Schaaf looks set to keep the side that lined up against Schalke with just Diego coming in.
Probable starting XI: Wiese, Fritz, Prödl, Naldo, Pasanen, Baumann, Frings, Jensen, Diego, Pizarro, Rosenberg
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Borussia Mönchengladbach- Marko Marin
There is a lot of pressure on youngster Marko Marin this season to live up to the huge expectations of him. He hasn’t exactly shone in the league so far, but he did grab the glory by hitting the back of the net for Germany in their recent friendly with Belgium. The Werder defence will be fully aware of what he is capable of, but on many occasions last season he showed that being aware of him simply isn’t enough. An in-form Marin will go a long way to helping Gladbach secure their first points- be it one or three.
Werder Bremen- Diego
Olympic silver medallist Diego returns to action for Werder this weekend hoping to kick-start their season. His departure for Beijing against the club’s wishes, caused a bit of a stir at the Weser Stadion, but all will be forgiven if the Brazilian midfield maestro hits his best form and leads Werder towards the top of the table.
I feel Gladbach will secure their first point of the season, but Werder trainer Thomas Schaaf will once again be left unsatisfied with just a single point.
Borussia Mönchengladbach 1-1 Werder Bremen