Prior to last week’s home encounter with Bayer Leverkusen the knives were drawn for Peter Stoeger. With the 6-0 loss at The Allianz Arena at the end of March still fresh in the minds of all Dortmund fans, the manner of the loss in Gelsenkirchen against Schalke only served to stoke the flames of the fire that were licking the feet of the Austrian boss. He needed a big result last week and, on the face of it, a tough match-up with Bayer Leverkusen – coming off the back of three games which they had won by scoring four goals – was exactly what was not needed. What ensued took us all pleasantly by surprise.
Leverkusen, our rivals for a top-four place and in danger of pulling away from us in third place, were absolutely blown away. From minute one to ninety they had no answer whatsoever to the threat posed by BVB. Poor Heiko Herrlich, a former black and yellow hero, stood in the dugout of the club he now presides over utterly at a loss as to what his team to could do to stop the onslaught. The truth was there was nothing he could do. His side came up against a formidable foe on the day who had everything to prove and play for.
It may not have been the fixture Stoeger needed but it was certainly what the doctor ordered come the end of the game. It will have no doubt improved morale among the team and the general consensus towards the too, bearing in mind the banner that was unfurled on The Yellow Wall before kick-off. Not only was the result good for us holistically, but it was also good for our points tally. With Leverkusen missing the chance to seal their qualification into next seasons Champions League we went above them in the table. We now leave ourselves just four points away from securing our own passage towards Europe’s top table next season. There are still three important games to play in order for us to secure those points though, starting tomorrow in Bremen.
The Weserstadion has been a happy hunting ground for BVB in recent years, winning on each of our five previous excursions there and beating our hosts on eleven of the last thirteen fixtures. It also seems like now might be a good time to play Bremen too, with their 1-0 win over Frankfurt earlier this month being their only win in their last four matches. If the stats aren’t enough to buoy everyone associated with the club then the new coming from the treatment room might be. Shinji Kagawa is likely to play some part of this game following his return from a recent injury. This will be a huge boost for Stoeger whose squad is a bit thin on the ground in the centre of the pitch. Raphael Guerreiro also returned to training this week but is still not fit enough to take any part in this game.
Looking like relegation contenders earlier in the season Bremen performed something of a renaissance. Having beaten use earlier in the season at Signal Iduna Park in Peter Bosz’s final game in charge Bremen have become one of the toughest teams to beat in the Bundesliga, especially at the Weserstadion. Florian Kohfeldt has put together a young team that awkward to play and defend against. They are far from unbeatable, however, with their 2-0 loss in Stuttgart last week evidence enough of that. They should not be taken lightly though and a win for them tomorrow would be their tenth consecutive home win, a run unmatched for them since the 2005/06 season.
Having been without key players as of late Florian Kohfeldt will have decisions to make over his team selection this weekend with said personnel returning. Ludwig Augustinusson, Aron Johansson and Luca Caldirola are all fit again following injury lay-offs. Niklas Moisander could miss this game though after having to cut short his participation in training through the week with an injury with an undiagnosed prognosis as yet. Two players likely to play though are Zlatko Junuzovic and Max Kruse. The latter will be making his fiftieth appearance for Werder while the former announced his desire not to renew his contract at the end of the season. Club captain Junuzovic is certain to get a positive send-off and Bremen will be looking to start their fond farewell here.