As the legendary former national team trainer once said: “Nach dem Spiel ist vor dem Spiel” (after the game is before the game). One game finishes, and another arrives hot on its heels. Matchday 11 is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
Werder Bremen v Hertha Berlin
Ole Werner: “Hertha are a side that defend really well. Offensively, as well, they have a lot of exceptional pace and power. The situation is a lot better than it was a week ago. Manuel Mbom and Nicolai Rapp are both still missing, but Nicolai is making good progress at the moment. Otherwise, apart from Friedl who is suspended and Salifou who will play with the U23s, everyone else is ready to go. Also, everyone is in contention to start. For those who have been missing for a while, we will have to see how long it takes.”
Sandro Schwarz: “We’re expecting a brilliant atmosphere and a hard-fought game under the floodlights this Friday evening, which we’re looking forward to. Werder play with a similar philosophy to Schalke – they defend aggressively man-to-man, but they can also play well on the ball.
“They are composed, have good plans both in and out of possession, play with a lot of structure and always have threat in front of goal. They’ve done very well as a promoted side. For us, it’s about working on all of those things and our ideas, as well as bringing intensity to the pitch.
Bayern Munich v Mainz
Julian Nagelsmann: “We are in a good flow. Against Barcelona it seemed like there was a swarm on the field marching in the same direction. The team gets along great with each other. For example, when you see Dayot Upamecano’s birthday pictures on the plane. These things make me confident that we will have a good mentality on the pitch tomorrow.
“We played two bad games against Mainz last season. The table constellation alone motivates us a lot. We want to go into the game like we did last time in Barcelona.”
Bo Svensson: “Everyone can see how Bayern are playing at the moment. It’s clearly better than a month ago. The key, I believe is to look at ourselves. Place the focus on what we want to show ourselves. It is the toughest of the 34 games in the season.
“When you’re going against these top players, it’s tougher to win duels, make chances in front of goal and to defend them. Everything is more difficult and there’s less room for error. You have to play your own game at the highest level in every area, but that’s the beauty of this job.
“You can then see if you can keep up in every position and as a team. That will be tough, but we know that if you don’t look forward to a game like this, you’re in the wrong job. I don’t know how I personally have such a good record against Bayern. I would love to give you an answer, but I don’t have one.”
RB Leipzig v Bayer Leverkusen
Marco Rose: “Leverkusen have often played a back three under Xabi Alonso, but also tried different variations and adapted to their opponent. They’ve got a lot of individual quality, have a solid system at the back and are ready to work hard. It’s not an easy time for Bayer Leverkusen at the moment, one that every team experiences one season or another.
“They are on the path to improving and getting back up to where they need to be. In their last couple of games, they saved a penalty in the Champions League and have looked out for each other. Things are definitely looking up there and we therefore need to be fully ready.
“He’s [Xabi Alonso] a strategist who is great at proving his strong mentality. You can see how he lives the game of football and gets fully into it. At the same time, he has a cool aura about him, he’s a nice guy and a welcome addition to the Bundesliga.”
Xabi Alonso: “Both teams have had very tough games. It’s difficult to put the same intensity on the pitch as we did against Atlético Madrid last time, but that has to be our goal.
“Leipzig are a strong team with a broad squad at the top level. It takes a complete performance to survive – we have to defend well, but the offensive that we use is just as important want to develop opportunities again.”
VfL Wolfsburg v VfL Bochum
Niko Kovac: “In the Bundesliga you are under pressure week after week, and you have to be able to withstand it as a player and as a coach. We know that tomorrow is a very important game for us. We’re playing at home against an opponent who is below us in the table but who are obviously making progress with the new coach. Still, we want to win. That’s our goal and that’s never easy in the Bundesliga.
“No matter where you play and who you play against, it’s always difficult. We have to be wide awake and focused when we go into the game and we certainly won’t underestimate VfL Bochum. We’ll do our best tomorrow and try to win the game, also with the help of our fans.”
Thomas Letsch: “Wolfsburg has been unbeaten for a few games. I saw their away game in Leverkusen. They could have won there too but ended up drawing. As for the system, you have several options. Sometimes Maximillian Arnold lets himself fall into the defensive line, they are also variable offensively and have enormous quality. Wolfsburg are not far from us in the table.
“Our goal is that the gap doesn’t get any bigger. Everything else will be easy. Wolfsburg is a very good team that sprints a lot, with the most in the Bundesliga.
“Of course, there’s a lot of room for improvement in our away statistics. But the glass is half full in my opinion. We’ve won the last two games, including the 1-0 away win at SV Elversberg. Our appearance and our mindset will be important. We hope that the stats will change over the weekend.
“Whether at home or away, we have to push our football through. Luckily, we have fantastic fans who will support us in large numbers away from home – like now in Wolfsburg.”
VfB Stuttgart v Augsburg
Michael Wimmer: “We clearly addressed and analysed the mistakes we made against BVB. We’ll show a different face against Augsburg. To be specific, that means being compact and supporting one another. It’s about being brave, working with intensity against the ball and going into challenges.
“FCA are brave, purposeful, and efficient – we’re going to have to stand up to them and throw ourselves into tackles to cope with their direct style of play. We have to find moments to attack, assert ourselves and play around them with purpose. We’ll embrace the fight head on.”
Enrico Maaßen: “We put in an excellent performance against Leipzig, at least when we had the same number of players on the pitch. You could really see what this team are capable of even though we were missing some key names. If we bring the energy and conviction of recent weeks onto the pitch on Saturday, then we have a real chance of winning the game.
“We will be going into the game with all the necessary respect. Stuttgart have a young, talented squad and they are full of enormous quality, despite some shaky results in recent weeks. We are a really tough side to face, and we pose a real threat at the top of the pitch. We are currently averaging more than a goal a game. We’re travelling to Stuttgart full of confidence.”
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Dortmund
Oliver Glasner: “We obviously want to celebrate a home win, but Dortmund have really hit their stride since losing at Union and played very well against Stuttgart and Manchester City – they also haven’t conceded a goal in three games.
“I think BVB have adopted a slightly different style of play under Edin Terzic, including a very good counter-attacking game with great pace through Karim Adeyemi, Youssoufa Moukoko and Jude Bellingham. We have to be on our guard there. It’s going to be a difficult task for us.
“We’ve come up with something to help the players break down BVB’s defence, but we can’t change our approach – we don’t want to and we won’t. We’re going to need our full repertoire again tomorrow. At this level, we’ll have to draw on all our strengths to come out on top.”
Edin Terzic: “This is not new for us. We knew that we’d often have such spells this season. We’re not alone in this respect. That’s why it’s not difficult to keep motivation and excitement levels high. We have to make up some points and the best way to do that is to start tomorrow.
“They press courageously and defend courageously regardless of the opponent. They play the same way in Bochum and away to Tottenham. That suggests a lot of self-belief. The atmosphere around the club, which particularly comes to the fore at home games and European away games, is extraordinary.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge. We know that it won’t be easy. But we’ve also shown that we can play better football than we have in the last weeks. It’ll be a defining game for us.”
Union Berlin v Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sunday)
Urs Fischer: To follow…
Daniel Farke: “We’ve had great periods in the series. Unfortunately, we are currently going through a somewhat difficult phase with the many injuries. It’s about gritting your teeth, standing together and fighting for every point.
“If everything is right for us and everyone is fit, we are quite capable of stringing together a lot of good results. If everything doesn’t fit, we’re not quite able to do that. I have to say that honestly. But there is also no doubt that this is exactly what we want to develop as Borussia Mönchengladbach in the long term. We want to move forward step by step.
“Mentality, strength of character and will are trademarks of this team [Union Berlin]. They have a high level of quality and have worked their way up the final rankings season after season over the past few years. You can only pay a huge compliment to Urs Fischer and Oliver Ruhnert, who have continued to develop the club with consistency and calm. This is a sign of excellent quality work and a lesson for many other clubs.”