Werder Bremen travel to league-leaders Bayern Munich for a showdown that is taking on final game characteristics for the northerners. Already four points behind, a loss would deal a huge blow to the defending champs.
A fine how do you do from Bayern's Kahn to Bremen's Klose last fall
Both Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen made short shrift of their opponents in mid-week German Cup matches and now they can look forward to the real thing in their clash this Saturday at Munich's Olympic Stadium.
On Tuesday, Bremen faced Bayern's amateur side on a snow and ice-covered pitch and dispensed of the well-staffed "Amateurs", 3-0. Felix Magath's team completely humiliated Freiburg, 7-0, in a Cup game on Wednesday.
In their first season meeting, Bayern came out on top 2-1 in Bremen. That was the famous match where Munich keeper Oliver Kahn stuck his finger up Miroslav Klose's nose after yanking down a cross in front of the Bremen striker. Yet last May in Munich, Bremen humbled Bayern 3-1 as they marched towards the title. This match promises to be a great one. Bremen have played solidly in the second leg (six victories in seven matches) and Munich want revenge for last year's defeat.
Schalke could be the benefactor
The real winner this weekend could be FC Schalke 04, however. Ralf Rangnick's "Royal Blues" currently stand even on points (47) with Bayern and could be the true beneficiaries in case of a Munich defeat. Schalke face Ruhr Valley rival Bochum.
Bochum coach Peter Neururer looks desparately for solutions to his side's poor play -- and is rewarded with sleepless nights
Bochum are in the middle of the relegation battle. If the season were to end this weekend, Peter Neururer's side would go down to the second division. After last week's 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Bremen did nothing to ease the situation. Neururer was neurotic. "I was up until 4:30 am watching the game on video, analyzing every mistake," he told Sport-Bild.
A loss to Schalke would keep the Bochum coach up for another night. Something that the players would prefer not to see.
A second match of top teams takes place in Hamburg, where seventh-place Hamburger SV play host to fifth-place Leverkusen. Hamburg coach Thomas Doll has reason to be pleased with his club's play but goalkeeper Martin Pieckenhagen has lost his starting spot after a gratuitous mistake led to Berlin's first goal last week.
The new goalie is Stefan Wächter. "I have complete confidence in him," commented Doll on the HSV homepage. That confidence is necessary. Leverkusen have lost only once in six second-leg games.
Stuttgart have had less success since Bundesliga play restarted in January. They have managed only to take eight points in six matches, dropping from third to sixth-place. Plus, they were knocked out of the UEFA Cup against not highly-regarded Italian side Parma.
Arminia Bielefeld and Delron Buckley (right) advanced to the German Cup seminfinals with a 1-0 win against Hansa Rostock.
Their opponent, Bielefeld, on the other hand, are on a run with convincing victories against Bayern and Nuremberg in the last three weeks. Historically, Uwe Rapolider's team has one handicap: They have only one in 12 matches in Stuttgart, that happening in April 1982.