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 29 is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
Augsburg v VfB Stuttgart
Enrico Maaßen: “We want the game to go in our favour and we can only do that if we show the right attitude and approach in the match. Stuttgart have had positive results recently, but we are only looking at ourselves.
“We showed a really good game in Leipzig” Enrico Maaßen explained ahead of the Stuttgart match. “We’re just a little bit short of scoring again. We scored a lot of points in the last Friday evening games, so we have to keep going like this!”
Sebastian Hoeneß: “I’m expecting a good atmosphere at a sold-out stadium. I’m looking forward to a fierce contest. It’s going to be physical, it’s going to be intense. We’ll be ready.
“In the games against both Bochum and Dortmund, we had to weather difficult periods. It will be a different game on Friday, but if we remain clear and work hard together, then things can happen. We have to keep proving that, though, and that requires constant work. We’ll need impetus from the bench in every game.
“They try to generate pressure through man-to-man marking and early pressing. In possession they look for the direct route to goal.”
Mainz v Bayern Munich
Bo Svensson: “I hope my team can put in a fantastic performance. Getting a win would be really special. Saturday will be special, I played under him [Thomas Tuchel] for five years. I learnt a lot from him as a footballer and a person during that time. Looking back at your life, there are always people who have helped to shape who you are and where you have. One of those people for me is Thomas Tuchel.
“You can play really well and it still might not be enough. We need to be considerably better than we were in these two game. You need to focus on your own qualities and cannot afford to look at what they are doing, otherwise it will be difficult.”
Thomas Tuchel: “”t’s important how the team handles the situation. A lot has happened this season. The team has experienced a lot. I experienced it myself in Paris, how sad it is that the championship is taken for granted. It must not be taken for granted. Sure, we won’t be celebrated as if an underdog became champion. We will not artificially downplay our claim to become champions.
“A championship is less prone to failure because you have time over a longer period of time. There problems can be compensated. We fight for the title. We shouldn’t be ashamed of that. In Paris, too, at some point it was no longer enough to become a champion. It is then devalued what it means to play Bundesliga. There is a lot of work involved in our day-to-day business. It’s a special situation.
“It will be very difficult. Mainz will use the time to prepare intensively for this game. They have their very own style, they perform over. They are third in the second half table. You’re surfing a wave, it’s going to be a brutally difficult task. Playing in Mainz at this point will be tough. It will be a big task, we have to be ready tomorrow. But there is strength in stillness. We’re going to recharge our batteries today. It will be a physically demanding game.”
Hoffenheim v Köln
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “FC play very intensive football and run a lot. Cologne play towards goal with purpose. We must see the space when we have possession of the ball and keep our build-up play varied. It will be down to us to produce a performance and be successful in this game.
“Our current form gives us a good feeling. We’re very optimistic and confident that we can pick up the three points on Saturday. We’re not over the line yet, we know that. The other teams are picking up points too. We’ll stay at it and keep going.
“I only think from Saturday to Saturday and don’t calculate when we can or must pick up points. We’re taking it step by step. We cannot be sure of ourselves until we’re over the line mathematically. That’s why we need to win as many games as possible. We want to take the decisive steps – and pick up three points against Cologne.”
Steffen Baumgart: “We are happy about every FC fan who makes the journey to Sinsheim. It can be assumed that a lot of fans will accompany us. Those who don’t make it to Sinsheim will keep their fingers crossed for us from home. We know we can rely on our fans.
“Hoffenheim are a team that has had enormous quality in their squad for years and hasn’t tapped into the potential it actually could. From my point of view, they have stabilized in the past matches. There were many games that they won with mentality and not just with their individual footballing skills. In the meantime, they are getting the power back on the pitch. In the past this was often the case when we were guests there. We want to put in a good performance over the 90 minutes.”
VfL Bochum v VfL Wolfsburg
Thomas Letsch: “I have the impression that everyone is giving everything so that we can achieve our goals. Every single player is important. Every player can help us, even those who only get a few minutes.
“In the first match, Wolfsburg showed us how strong they can be. We had a very, very hard time there. Wolfsburg have extreme individual quality, they are one of the top teams in the Bundesliga. They have found themselves after some initial difficulties. At the moment, they are not getting the results they would like. But they are definitely a team that is full of top players. It will be a completely different game to Union Berlin. We expect them to be pro-active and to attack us in the build-up to the game. It will be a hotly contested match.
“We have to remain stable. If we manage to allow them few chances, we’ll have a good basis. That is always the prerequisite : defending our goal well. My approach always starts when the opponent has the ball. That’s how we approach it.
“We have managed to be in the running six matchdays from the end of the season. We have everything in our own hands. That’s nice, but we haven’t achieved anything yet. If we don’t gain any more points, it won’t be enough. The sooner, the better.”
Niko Kovac: “We know we kick-started a proper run when we played Bochum in the first half of the campaign. We want to do the same this time – in the knowledge that Bochum are really strong at home. With their fans behind them, they’ve already managed to get the better of one or two stronger opponents. For us, it’s about being up for the fight and playing to our abilities in order to create and convert our chances.”
“We did a lot of things right [in the reverse fixture]. We put our opponents under pressure and never let them settle into their game. We made the most of the chances we had. It was a really great performance and we’ll obviously try to do the same tomorrow. As I always say, though, every game is different.”
Hertha Berlin v Werder Bremen
Pal Dardai: “A team moves together, it starts with the warm-up. We practiced a lot of duels and headed as much as in the past two months (grins) . It was also about reading, getting and processing second balls together. Tuesday we had real, intensive football training, Wednesday we worked tactically defensively and Thursday tactically offensively.
“But it was also important that despite all the seriousness, there was always a good mood and fun involved. It was also important for me to recognize which players can lead and direct the team and how long the concentration remains high. I identified six or seven names.
“We have a good team here that I can rely on. We have already examined the opponent. I appreciate Ole Werner and the club, but the focus is on ourselves. If we do what we set out to do well, we win. For this we must be strong together. It doesn’t matter that Werder haven’t scored much lately.”
Ole Werner: “It will be an exciting away game. We want to put in a good performance so that we will still be able to say that after the game. Obviously there will be some changes with them. We can’t be certain how they will set up. Because of that, it’s all the more important that we reflect on our own strengths.
“For us, it is always about trying to win our next game. We are completely clear what’s at stake. We know what our aims are and can reach exactly these aims in this phase of the season.”
Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt
Edin Terzic: “We said before the season that we wanted to play for titles. Now we still have the chance to play for a title and that is the German championship. The gap is two points, there are still six games, four of which are at home. Especially at home we showed very successful football this season.
“It is undisputed that Eintracht Frankfurt is one of the most successful teams in Germany in recent years. Of course we also know that they haven’t won in seven Bundesliga games. But they are more likely to be in a results crisis than in a performance crisis. The performances were often right, there were many tight situations. A lot of little things didn’t work out.
“If we want to be more successful, everyone has to be willing to go the extra metre. We have to defend the situation we put ourselves in and invest everything. That starts on Saturday.”
Oliver Glasner: “Dortmund are a very good team who had an incredible run to kick off 2023. Their performances have been more up and down recently. They’ve got a lot of quality and are strong at home, but despite all that, it’s about time we got a win again!
“We’re in the thick of the tussle for the European places. Now we’re playing against Dortmund, which is followed by meetings with direct rivals Mainz and Freiburg. Last weekend there were six draws and two wins by a one-goal margin. The league is incredibly close, it’s exciting everywhere. That’s exactly what we all want. We’ll give everything until the last matchday to finish in the top six.”
Freiburg v Schalke (Sunday)
Christian Streich: “Schalke are now giving everything in the relegation battle. I have no concerns whatsoever that anyone thinks it will be easy on Sunday. It will be a very hard-fought game. If we were to win, it would certainly make a nice Sunday. It’s always about what you actually do.”
Thomas Reis: “The important thing is for us to be brave,” trainer Thomas Reis said this week. “We’re a team, which you need in our situation. Everyone is there for each other. That gives me a positive feeling heading into our remaining games.
“Freiburg’s team has grown together over the years. They are a physical side that invest a lot of energy into their games, including the coach – who I have a lot of respect for.”
Bayer Leverkusen v RB Leipzig (Sunday)
Xabi Alonso: To follow…
Marco Rose: “We need a good team performance against a side who are in really good form. They’re really energetic and play with a lot of power and drive. They’re really good on the counterand have a lot of pace in their side. Frimpong, Diaby, Adli are all fantastic players. They’re also reallygood at the back; they have a lot of physical players who can sweep up danger and start moves.
“Leverkusen will pose a real challenge for us, but it’s one that we’re looking forward to. We’ve also shown in recent weeks that we’re in good form and we’ve built up some momentum with our good results of late. Our cup win against Dortmund was good and we defeated two difficult sides in the league.
“Therefore, we’re full of confidence going to Leverkusen. We know that there are only six games left. We’re approaching the season run-in now and we want to achieve our goals.”
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Union Berlin (Sunday)
Daniel Farke: “Union are delivering consistently good work. After their promotion they’ve done better in the table year after year. Also, the current table doesn’t lie. Union are in the Champions League places and deserve to be there. The team’s development is remarkable. They have a deep squad, and play with a lot of physicality, power and dynamism. It is very difficult to play against them. Their high levels of passion and commitment make them stand out. We know what to expect, but that doesn’t make it any easier.
“We were very close to taking points with us from the reverse fixture. The deciding goal was in the seventh minute of additional time. We know what to do in order to be successful. We need a good, concentrated performance, have to take on the physical challenge and play well on the day. This will be the key to being in the running to get the points.
Urs Fischer: “If you take the last three games, they only conceded one goal and didn’t lose. They are very compact in zone two, have a good transition game and the individual quality and speed to go one-on-one. Gladbach has shown in the last few games that it will be a challenging task for us.”
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