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Sports

Bremen Set the Pace for Week Three

Reigning champions Werder Bremen are the team to beat at this early stage of the season with two wins from two games. Here's a preview of all the coming games in Week Three as others plot to close the gap.

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Bremen's Valdez is one of the stars enjoying the club's good start

After the international friendlies disrupted the rhythm of leagues all over Europe, many of which were barely a week old, competitive league soccer gets underway again. The Bundesliga enters Week Three with the majority of international stars back with their clubs and ready to compete once more as Germany's premier soccer league once again prepares for action on the weekend August 28/29.

Champions Werder Bremen will be looking to extend their winning ways after thrashing Hansa Rostock 0-4 in northern Germany to secure the biggest win of Week Two and maintain a 100 percent record in the league so far. Bremen, top of the table on six points after two matches, take on Wolfsburg who will want to improve their luck after an attacking display against Mainz went unrewarded. The Wolves struck the woodwork twice and ended their Week Two game as 1-0 losers. Their first game victory should not be a too distant memory and Thomas Brdaric will be buoyed by another Germany call-up in mid-week and will be looking to avoid the frame and find the net against the champions.

New boy Ailton humbled by Asamoah

Stromausfall zum Bundesligaauftakt

While Schalke's first win of the season against Kaiserslautern in Week Two brought some relief to the start of a jittery campaign, there is still some unrest in the Gelsenkirchen camp. New striker Ailton has apparently spat the dummy over criticism he has received over his performances for his new club, angering his new boss and ending a short-lived honeymoon period after his switch from Bremen. Happily though, a trusted old friend seems to be enjoying himself again.

Two goals from Gerald Asamoah will give Schalke cause for optimism against Rostock, the Germany striker scoring in each half in the 2-1 win against Kaiserslautern. Schalke's opponents will be wary of any team with a prolific striker in their midst, after feeling the full force of Bremen's attacking prowess in the 4-0 defeat in Week Two. Expect a few personnel changes at Hansa before the Schalke game.

Bundesliga Hertha BSC Berlin gegen FC Bayern München

Berlin's Marcelinho

Hertha Berlin showed that they could play against the big guns and frustrate their opponents into playing the game their way in their second match. Against Bayern Munich, the early goal by Brazilian Marcelinho was followed up by almost Otto Rehhagel-like defensive tactics that caused Bayern to shoot from distance and scrap tooth and nail for every ball in the final third of the pitch.

Greek tactics could be a tragedy in waiting

Berlin will have to be aware, however, that defending a one-goal lead for 75 minutes against quality opposition can be risky, as shown by the amount of Munich pressure that followed the break. They may not face such stiff competition from Mainz, but fresh from taking the scalp of Hamburg in a well-fought 2-1 victory, the Bundesliga virgin may just have the gall to find a way through the Greece style set up at Hertha.

Dortmund's season finally sparked into life after what seemed to be the start of a long and painful drop into another campaign of ignominy. Good news from the Mönchengladbach victory will be the emergence of Danish newcomer Niclas Jensen as a goal scorer and the first goals for Jan Koller and Brazilian Ewerthon this season. The manner of the victory in Week Two will also fill the BVB faithful with optimism. Behind twice in the match, Dortmund recovered to plunder an away win.

Hannover goes to the Westfalen Stadium, after having the Week Two game against Arminia Bielefeld put back until September. In the wake of a 2-1 defeat on the opening day of the season against Bayer Leverkusen, Hannover fans will hope the extended break from play has given their team brighter ideas.

Stuttgart without hero-turned-villain

Jeronimo Cacau

Jeronimo Cacau of VfB Stuttgart

Early league leaders Stuttgart stuttered against surprising second-placers Nuremberg in their last game, despite taking the lead through Week One's hat-trick hero Cacau. The Brazilian promptly became Week Two's villain and subsequently Week Three's casualty as he is suspended for the game against second-from-bottom side Kaiserslautern. Stuttgart coach Matthias Sammer will be looking for more life from his team after shutting up shop early in the second half and running the clock down after being pegged back to 1-1 by Nuremberg.

Stuttgart should look to restart their flying challenge with a comprehensive performance in their next game, while Kaiserslautern are still looking for their first win and will feel aggrieved that it didn't come in their last game against Schalke. Jochen Seitz opened his account by scoring after a through ball from club newcomer Carsten Jancker only to see his team fall victim to a better-organized side in the Royal Blues.

Nuremberg continue their Bundesliga adventure in the upper echelons thanks in part to Croat Ivica Banovic's equalizer against 10-man Stuttgart in the Northerner's last game. Nuremberg remain in the top five with a win and a draw and look forward to remaining there with a good result against bottom club Hamburg.

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