As the legendary former national team trainer Sepp Herberger 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 26 is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
Eintracht Frankfurt v VfL Bochum
Oliver Glasner: “They’ve won their last two games without conceding. Their style of play is very physical. Thomas Letsch seems to have rediscovered the Bochum style with which they comfortably stayed up last season. They often play man-to-man, put you under a lot of pressure, close down very aggressively and don’t give you much time for structured build-up play.
“They play with high intensity and are aggressive in the challenge. They get the ball up to the forwards quickly, have a goalkeeper who likes to kick it long and often play off the second balls. Set plays are one of their strengths, which they try to create time and time again. Essentially it’ll be important to show efficiency. We’ve created clear opportunities lately and we need to make better use of them on Friday.”
Thomas Letsch: “Eintracht is an aggressive, strong team. With a high intensity. I don’t want to judge the current events, I’m not even entitled to do that. The fact is that we encounter great quality. Frankfurt has shown this not only internationally.
“We are the underdog, but we want to take something with us from Frankfurt. This also requires a high level of intensity on our part, as well as the necessary luck. We’ve kept a clean sheet twice recently, that’s the basis for a successful performance.
“We have to stay sharp until the end. The current place in the table is a snapshot. We’re working towards having it in the end. It would also be fatal to rest on our laurels.”
RB Leipzig v Mainz
Marco Rose: “They’re a very well-organised team. There are not many surprises in store for us; we know what we’re coming up against. They’ll play with a back three and a man-marking system in the middle and use an intense approach. When Mainz attack, they attack with everything and go right until the very end. They try to win balls and have scored goals off the back of that.
“They have target men that they like to use in attack, by looking for a longer pass and then trying to go after the first and second balls. Stach, Lee and Ingvartsen are all dynamic players. They like to switch the ball often; they can do a lot. They also like to play low, flat balls from midfield.
“Therefore, we have to find a good balance. We know what we’re up against. They use a lot of crosses from deep into the final third. If Onisiwo is playing in attack, we have to be alert. Of course, set pieces will be important as well.”
Bo Svensson: “I expect one of the most difficult games of the season. Leipzig are simply good under Marco [Rose], even if they lost a few games recently. We have to do a lot to take something with us. We have to be effective and get a top performance in all phases, you need the right tactics. The bar for us is very high there.”
Union Berlin v VfB Stuttgart
Urs Fischer: “VfB’s past games have all been very close, and for me the team give off an active and self-confident impression. Despite the current situation, Stuttgart are always looking for solutions with the ball, plus they are also strong on the flanks.”
Bruno Labbadia: “Union’s compactness, possession and togetherness set them apart. Nobody hides and everyone is prepared to play the way they’re expected to. Their self-confidence also enables them to win tight games. They have a clear, straightforward way of playing and always put in 100 per cent.
“We need to be up for the fight. Physicality, challenges, patience, efficiency and concentration are required against Union. We can’t afford to give away much and need to be patient – but we also want to play football and attack them.”
Freiburg v Hertha Berlin
Christian Streich: “Sandro Schwarz is doing really well. You can only do so well in the environment in which so much is happening. Something like that happens to us in 40 years, what happens to them in three years.
“It will be a 50:50 game on Saturday. I’d rather say 70:30 – but 50:50. We have to invest everything. Bayern isn’t an issue at all, the boys are reasonable. They know exactly: if we can beat Hertha , then we would be in an incredibly great situation.
“The lads know exactly what’s coming. Hertha is doing well, they conceded two stupid penalties in Hoffenheim. Before that they were clearly better against Mainz. They have a really good team. They have a clear structure, often play in the same system, often with the same players. They run, put pressure on. It’s a real task.
“We couldn’t train with all the players who came back from the national teams. Tomorrow we’ll do a few more minutes of 3-4 routines on the pitch. But they’re trained and know what we’re doing.”
Sandro Schwarz: “Freiburg’s team seems very stable in its performance. The team has good individual quality and great football skills. What distinguishes them, is they implement with self-confidence and high intensity. In addition, the standard quality of the SC is well known. We will analyse video sequences with the team and train dead balls to be prepared. It’s about showing ways in which we have to defend such situations.
“But it is also important to define clear areas in which we see opportunities for our own offensive standards. Lateral free kicks, corner kicks – we need faith and consistency to be able to score goals ourselves!
“Each individual has to stay on task, do it with discipline and deal with their own mistakes, which the boys manage to do at home. This is crucial. In addition, it is important to defend consistently, to avoid individual mistakes and to act courageously when in possession of the ball. We have to appear as a team and bring that charisma, and take the qualities from the home games to the pitch in Freiburg too!”
VfL Wolfsburg v Augsburg
Niko Kovac: “The last two months are all about getting down to business: the places and titles are distributed. Until then, you have to put yourself in a good situation. We did that with seventh place, but we want to use the nine games to get the place. Anything beyond that, we take with us.
“FCA have had to play against relegation for a number of years and have developed a DNA that goes in the direction of signing hungry and strong players. Accordingly, they are doing well, playing man-to-man on the whole pitch for over 90 minutes. We will hardly have time and space, so we have to work out faster solutions and thus create opportunities.
“It’s going to be intense, that was the case in the first leg and also in the friendly after the training camp. It’s going to be 90 tough minutes and we can’t just solve everything with football. It’s going to be a struggle, but the team is aware of that.”
Enrico Maaßen: “We need a top performance and need to be clinical in front of goal. It will be another big challenge for us, but we’ve performed well in our three games against Wolfsburg this season. We’ve picked up a few points on the road. Now we obviously want to get the win in Wolfsburg to stop the conversation around it!”
Schalke v Bayer Leverkusen
Thomas Reis: “They have a lot of pace in their side and look to get in behind your defence as soon as they win the ball. It will be important to be solid when we don’t have the ball so that we can stop their pacey duo of Moussa Diaby and Jeremie Frimpong. Otherwise, you can barely stop them. We’re prepared for the challenge though.
“They are also vulnerable. We want our style of play to frustrate them, whilst also playing attractive football ourselves. Attractive also means playing with courage and pressing the opponents early.
“We’re at home and will have the supporters there behind us. That just gives the lads an extra boost.”
Xabi Alonso: “All 13 national team players have returned to Leverkusen in good health. That is great news. All fit players are ready for tomorrow. We expect an exciting game at Schalke.
“Schalke are in a good momentum. They have good energy in the team and above all they still have hope of staying up in the league. That’s why they fight with a lot of passion in every game.
“”We have to be stable, for that we need a high level of concentration and a strong performance. There’s a good atmosphere in the Veltins Arena – we’re prepared for that. If we can play at our best level, we’ll achieve a good result.”
Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund
Thomas Tuchel: “We feel a very positive energy and great anticipation for the game tomorrow. First of all it’s been about getting a feel for each other. The league standings, the rivalry between the two clubs… It’s certainly going to be a fierce contest. We’ll also be fully prepared emotionally.
“We want the lead back. We won’t be champions if we win, but nor will we write off the title if we don’t win. The match obviously has a signalling effect, though.”
Edin Terzic: “It’s getting to the business end of the season. We’ve achieved a lot. We want to protect it. We’re aware of our opportunity
“The being there for each other and the energy make me feel positive. We’re on a good run, we’re aware of our opportunity. And we want to seize this opportunity. The fact that we can name a line-up based on the players that are in form again also makes me confident.
“We know that Bayern will want to produce a top performance, especially against us and especially at home. What has not changed is the fact that they will still have a top coach on the bench and a top team on the pitch.
“We want to do everything in our power to ensure that we fly back with the same euphoria we’re flying to Munich with.”
Köln v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Steffen Baumgart: “Our fans are not only optimistic, they will cheer and support us from the first to the last minute. We want to give something back. A common path means going through difficult times. We try to support each other. The players have to perform. We don’t just hear that the guys behind the goal give it their all, we know that too.
““Gladbach has outstanding quality when it comes to attacking with a vice world champion (Marcus Thuram, editor’s note) and a national player (Jonas Hofmann, editor’s note). Gladbach is one of the most dangerous teams in the league when it comes to switching games.
“They are very good at set pieces and can play football very well if you let them. From my point of view they could be tabulated elsewhere, they had some unfortunate results. Nonetheless, we’re playing at home and we want to show a good game. We want to win. We have to do a lot to win. We are well prepared.”
Daniel Farke: “The table or form doesn’t play a role when it’s derby day. It’s the biggest game of the year for both sets of fans. These past few where Köln haven’t picked us as many points as they would’ve wished in the past few games and still not being entirely safe, might create a bit more of an explosive atmosphere.
“I’m expecting a highly motivated opponent that will be trying to win the points in their own stadium. The game is of the highest importance for us, in emotional games like this it’s always the question ‘Us or them?’ These are the brilliant football games that everyone eagerly waits for.”
Werder Bremen v Hoffenheim
Ole Werner: “We were able to train our issues well during the international break and also got through cleanly in terms of personnel. Overall, it was a good few weeks in terms of training. Now it’s time to implement that on Sunday.
“Both teams are known for defending high and actively. For us, like in every game, it’s about putting the basics on the pitch. Hoffenheim has strengths in terms of play, which were also evident in the last few games.
“We’re not fooled by the table. Hoffenheim showed against Hertha what the team is capable of. The encounter is no more important than the tasks before and after. Sure, the points would do us good – but game by game. For us it’s about putting our performance on the pitch and winning.”
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “Under coach Ole Werner, they play offensively and consciously take risks. They have frequently been rewarded with points and have had a strong season so far. Werder have carried the energy from promotion with them. We will make one or two tactical tweaks, but they will be within the scope of our philosophy. We’re focusing on our game.
“Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch are great at getting in behind. They can hold up the ball and distribute it. To enable both of them to work so well, the entire team uses its attacking structure to create space for the strikers.
“We’ve learned from the failures over the past weeks, but the success against Berlin has showed that self-confidence grows through victories. We want to build on that and stay in attacking mode.”