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Sports

Battle of the B's

Bremen, yes. Bayern, yes. But Bielefeld? Not many people would have believed you if you had told them in August that at this stage of the season the small central German club would be in the top half of the standings.

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Nelson Valdez saved Werder last week. Bremen face Bielefeld next.

But it's true and a great deal of the credit can be given to another B-striker: Delron Buckley and his league-leading ten goals so far this season. Buckley's ten make up the majority of Bielefeld's total of 15. The formula is simple: stop Buckley and you stop Bielefeld. But tell that to Berlin, Kaiserslautern, Freiburg or Dortmund who all have lost to Buckley's team recently. Things just seem to be going right for coach Uwe Rapolder's club.

Conversely, Thomas Schaaf's Bremen have struggled of late. They are not playing poorly but luck has not been on their side in the late stages of games, the opposite fate of the 2003/04 championship season where they won matches in the 80th or 90th minute.

In last week's 2-2 draw against Leverkusen they didn't even play to the 90th minute. Referee Felix Brych blew the final whistle two seconds before time was over. This at a point when Bremen was increasing the pressure. Schaaf reacted angrily, "I don't like it when I feel I am being treated unfairly. Honestly, I feel like someone took the mickey out of me."

Bayern Munich have made their reappearance on the scene at the top, just sitting one point back of Wolfsburg. In Bochum they turned a 1-0 second-half deficit into a 3-1 victory. The hero was new Peruvian striker, Jose Paolo Guerrero, who scored the tying and go-ahead goals.

Coach Felix Magath is pleased with the new discovery, "Paolo is a striker with a lot of instincts. He has a nose for such situations and is currently at the top of his game." Nevertheless, the 20-year-old won't be starting against Kaiserslautern on Saturday.

Kaiserslautern beat Dortmund last week but Bayern Munich is another caliber. Kurt Jara's side has only came away victorious four times in 38 trips to Munich.

Stuttgart's Kuranyi scores for Klinsmann

Fußball Länderspiel Deutschland - Kamerun

Stuttgart striker Kevin Kuranyi scored against Cameroon but has had less success in the league.

Can Stuttgart put last week's 3-0 drubbing against Wolfsburg behind them? The chances are good because Mönchengladbach is in town, a team they haven't lost to since June 10, 1995. Stuttgart's national striker Kevin Kuranyi scored a goal on Wednesday against Cameroon and would like to use that as a springboard into the Bundesliga where he has found the net only four times.

Mönchengladbach have a goal-scorer in Oliver Neuville. He has scored nine times this season but Gladbach have yet to win on the road this season.

Schalke stumbled last week against Berlin and face Leverkusen, who pushed champs Bremen to the limit only to draw 2-2. The neighbors both have big European ambitions but only Schalke is currently close to realizing them, sitting in third place. Leverkusen can't win on the road and is in eighth.

Leverkusen took both games last season and a win on Saturday would put them back in the hunt for a spot in European club competition.

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