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 28 is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
Schalke v Hertha Berlin
Thomas Reis: “We were lacking many of the things that had come to define us in the previous weeks. The key thing for me is that they see clear evidence of what went wrong, so that there is no room for excuses and that we’re able to learn from it.
“It’s about finding solutions together and getting certain ideas out of our heads, which is just part and parcel of the situation we’re currently in. It’s important that we are all on the same page when we step onto the pitch. That’s the feeling I get from the team. On Friday, we want to show that side of us that we’ve gotten used to seeing in recent weeks!
“We want to play good football, be brave, get stuck in and keep all three points here, with the help of the fans. I will set the tone and the team will definitely follow suit. We know that it’s a very important game and that we have the chance to move up the table into the play-off spot, at least for the night. That’s an extra bit of motivation for us.”
Sandro Schwarz: “Of course I feel tension, but coupled with great anticipation of a very emotional away game. We know the table situation and the starting position. But we have to stick to our content, we still have seven games to play. Still, it’s a very important game with a huge opportunity. We need stability on the pitch, we have to counteract it and channel our emotions properly.
“We need aggressiveness, we have to fight back physically and we can’t give up in the 50:50 duels. But it will be important not to overdo it, even if it involves a certain emotionality. Everyone is aware of that. We’d rather use the anticipation to get our footballing quality onto the pitch. In the last two games you could tell that we’re fully there. We want to feel this sense of community, this energy again.”
“Schalke showed in the second half in Hoffenheim what the team had been able to do in the previous weeks. The Elf doesn’t allow a lot of space and is very aggressive. We need straightness to find spaces against their male orientation. We have to use the ball possession that we have to create new situations in one-on-ones and thus create a goal threat.”
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim
Thomas Tuchel: “The focus is always on the next game. I expect from myself and everyone on the staff that we prepare the team 100 percent optimally. We also need a good result to be able to win the title.
“There is definitely a legacy from Pep Guardiola, also from Jupp Heynckes and also Louis van Gaal and Hansi Flick. Pep was extremely influential in the club for three years and left his mark. I also feel the spirit of Jupp. It’s important that I don’t try to imitate and am intimidated. I love the task and am grateful to work at the level. Now I’m trying to leave my own mark. That is only possible together with the staff and of course the players.
“I like having Thomas Müller around the striker. Serge Gnabry found good space [vs Man City] but unfortunately made a few technical errors. We created a lot of chances against Freiburg and Dortmund. Manchester City cannot be reduced to possession, they have been number one in set pieces for years. I didn’t expect too many top-class chances against City. The focus for tomorrow is: we want to score as many goals as possible and not concede a goal. That’s how we train.”
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “Bayern are one of the best teams in the world. Under Thomas Tuchel they play a little more controlled on the defensive and are more dangerous after winning the ball. If your opponent has such a skill level, for us it’s primarily about defending as a team and enabling one or two relief phases.
“Even after the cup loss, they showed that they are capable of reacting. They played well against Manchester City. There’s a lot at stake for Bayern tomorrow, so the game in the Champions League is irrelevant.
“I am very satisfied with the team spirit. When you see how the bank celebrates and how we celebrate the goals, you can tell that the team sticks together. For our current phase we have found a good tactical adjustment that gives us stability and lets our strengths come into their own. However, the game idea changes continuously, it is always a process. We are on a very good path.”
RB Leipzig v Augsburg
Marco Rose: “I expect a very unpleasant opponent. I know Enno [Enrico Maaßen] from last year in Dortmund, he was coach of the second team. I know his qualities, I know that he stands for football and positional play.
“And then of course there is this unpleasant way of defending, in high pressing, very man-oriented. We will have little time and little space, so we have to find solutions there. Overall, I think that Augsburg has really developed well under Enno and we will have a challenging task ahead of us tomorrow.
“I think we’re basically in a good position because Dani Olmo picks up the rhythm and Christo comes back. We have a squad situation that is more relaxed. We have a competitive situation and we can react to things. And then we’ll be well prepared for the final sprint.”
Enrico Maaßen: “Of course we need points, but everything is in our hands and that’s how we’ll approach the remaining fixtures. It’s important to stay in control in this period and believe in your own strengths.
“Of course, we’re not going to sugar-coat things; we often concede goals too easily, even though we are playing well in the game. We have to be consistent at the back and use everything we have to score goals.
“The way the boys are playing is right – sometimes we’re missing that last bit of luck, sometimes a touch of quality, but we stick together and that’s the only way the results will come. It won’t be easy, Leipzig are a very good side with and against the ball, but we have already shown this season how it can go. It’s all about the collective, that was the key in the reverse fixture and it will be the same in this game.”
Köln v Mainz
Steffen Baumgart: “Mainz deserve what they have achieved because they have shown good performances over a long period of time. After their win in Leipzig, there was more talk about how poorly Leipzig played. The performance that Mainz delivered there was not talked about at all. They are very compact and clear in their processes, especially when it comes to counter-pressing.
“Mainz is one of those teams that is able to attack high but also defend deep at the same time. Now they have a solution ready for everything. They have good transitions and can be dangerous at all stages of the game. It’s not for nothing that they’re the third best team in the second half of the season. It will be an interesting task for us.
“We want to build on the performances we have shown in previous matches. I’m excluding the Dortmund game. We want to get a positive result on Saturday. Three points would be another step towards our goal. We want to come off the pitch as winners on Saturday, play aggressively and take our chances. We want to take the emotions from our stadium with us.”
Bo Svensson: “We can expect a very special atmosphere in Cologne. When the fans get behind the team, it makes for one of the best stadium experiences in Germany. It’s been a very closely fought encounter in the past two years. I think it will be a game full of emotion.
“Köln will look to get forward and play positive football. Their fans carry them at home. We have to take the game by the scruff of the neck and allow our quality to shine. Any player who isn’t looking forward to this is in the wrong job. We have a lot of respect, but there’s a great sense of anticipation too.
“We’ve analysed the whole Bremen game, not just the two goals we conceded. We weren’t good enough in the first half, but we stepped it up after the break. The way things ended was obviously disappointing, but there was no sign of that being the overwhelming feeling among the players by training on Tuesday.
“On the other hand, we haven’t lost a game in two months. That makes it easier to move on from a result like that. The team’s confidence is still intact.”
VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Dortmund
Sebastian Hoeneß: “We’ve won two games and we’re pleased, but now it’s straight back to it: focus, work clearly and carry the momentum forward to upset Dortmund. We have no time to lose and have to pick up every point that we can.
“I see the boys as very balanced. We’re happy about the change in mood, but remain alert and focused. It’s about finding the balance in play – a mix of being brave, getting into positions quickly and actively winning the ball, but also with some periods of calm.”
“We’ve taken the right step in the last two games together with the fans. The support was amazing. We want to keep putting everything into winning matches, and then we’ll have the fans on our side.”
Edin Terzic: “We want to build on the Union performance. We will be perfectly prepared for the game. We’re entering the home straight now. We want to make the most of the strong position we’re in. We want to go into the remaining seven games full of hunger, so that we can share a great story together at the end of the season.
“Stuttgart have looked really organised, determined and stable. The two wins will have given them a lot of confidence and belief. They have a lot of possession, come out on top in a lot of tackles, and have high passing accuracy. They have lost a lot of close games by fine margins and often in unfortunate circumstances.
“I expect a tough task. But we’ve shown in the reverse fixture as well as throughout 2023 so far that we are good at dealing with tough situations. Both teams are under pressure to get a result, as both want to take a step towards achieving their ultimate goals.”
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Oliver Glasner: “I see two teams at a similar level. Little things will decide the game – like earlier this season, when we had good moments in transition and converted our chances. That’s going to be important again. They have robustness and pace in their play, they always like to bring in their wide players. But they also offer you spaces, which we need to use. Just like every Bundesliga game, I expect a hard-fought match.
“I see two teams at a similar level. Little things will decide the game – like earlier this season, when we had good moments in transition and converted our chances. That’s going to be important again.
“They have robustness and pace in their play, they always like to bring in their wide players. But they also offer you spaces, which we need to use. Just like every Bundesliga game, I expect a hard-fought match.”
Daniel Farke: “Eintracht are a very good counterattacking side. They have a lot of quality and pace in attack and are always capable of quickly turning the ball over and creating a dangerous chance, so we will be focusing on dealing with that in our preparations. We will have to be solid in possession and be well organised to deal with counters if we want to pick up points in Frankfurt.
“I’m not going to say something different each week. The three points against Wolfsburg did us good. We know that we’ve got a difficult away game in Frankfurt that is very important for us. We’re focused on following up on our good defensive performances from recent weeks and being clinical.
“We’re going into the final seven games with a real sense of anticipation. We will try and pick up as many points as we can, then we will see where we end up after matchday 34.”
Werder Bremen v Freiburg (Sunday)
Ole Werner: “We didn’t give up until the end [v Mainz] and believed that we could take something with us. Once again we were rewarded for this attitude. It is something that is very important for the final sprint of this season. The games will remain very close. It will always be about having the attitude and belief that you can win tight games.
“Regardless of the opponent, almost all games this season have been very close. Everyone always had moments when things could have turned one way or the other.”
Christian Streich: “We’ve gotten the maximum out of our opportunities so far. So far we’re very satisfied, but of course we’re ambitious enough to say: We’re going to Bremen and want to do it again there. We’ve played different variations this season, looked at Bremen and how the opponents behaved. And now there are different considerations and multiple options. It also has something to do with the staff that is available to us.
“They played a very good game against Leverkusen and lost 2:3. They have the quality to come back from behind, are very variable. There is something tactical awaiting us – it is a big challenge.”
Union Berlin v VfL Bochum (Sunday)
Urs Fischer: To follow…
Thomas Letsch: “Union is in third place. It’s a team fighting to get into the Champions League. They have an exceptional home record. They have a clear structure, they play 3-5-2, and they make the spaces very, very narrow. It’s extremely difficult to create chances against Union. Hats off to what’s happening there. They have a very, very clear way of playing football. It’s difficult to score against them. Union is a team to look at. They do many things close to perfection.
“We‘re looking forward to the task and looking forward to the final sprint in the league. We hope we can get a great result at Union. I assume that Union will have more possession of the ball in their own stadium. I don’t think they will sit back, they will be very active. They are in third place and have a great home record. We must not play into their hands. I don’t think there will be long ball passages in the game. It will depend on aerial duels and second balls. We’ve stabilized away from home and have scored points away from home in the past two games. But we meet a home power.
VfL Wolfsburg v Bayer Leverkusen (Sunday)