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 30 is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
VfL Bochum v Borussia Dortmund (Friday)
Thomas Letsch: “Dortmund is particularly strong in the 2023 calendar year. They have an extreme individual quality. There will be a world selection on the pitch, peppered with many national players. Karim Adeyemi and Donyell Malen are extremely fast. If you offer them room, they are difficult to defend. With Sebastian Haller they have a target player who can secure and lay-off the balls well. Jude Bellingham, Julian Brandt – I could list more. They are of high quality.
“With Borussia Dortmund, the supposedly best team in the Bundesliga is coming to Bochum. They are in first place with five games to go and want to become German champions. We are happy to have them as our guest here. We don’t care if it’s a good time or a bad time. We’re doing everything we can to play in the Bundesliga next season.
“What could be nicer? Friday evening game, derby, and in an exciting constellation. We won’t hide. We have a home game in a special atmosphere. We did really well in both previous games against Dortmund. We played well, but just playing is not enough. In the end we lost both games. We must try to allow as little as possible. And when we get opportunities ourselves, we have to take advantage of them. It’s a lot of little things.
“We have to go to the absolute limit over 90 minutes and be at 100 percent to be able to take something with us.”
Edin Terzic: “It’s a Revierderby. We can remember the Pokal game in Bochum under floodlights, the atmosphere is heated. It will be a difficult task, but we’re going into the game with a healthy dose of confidence. The most important step is always the next one. We are well prepared and the guys trained well during the week. We can improve our situation tomorrow, but that can only happen if we take three points.
“We haven’t been able to win the last five away games. If we couldn’t win away from home, though, we wouldn’t be where we are now. We can and we have to pull it off in the last two away games to achieve our goals.
“They play very intense football, have fixed patterns and put a lot of emphasis on standards. Bochum always comes through their target player up front, who then puts the balls off to quick outfielders. A lot of teams have struggled there.
“We’re looking forward to it being down to the wire now. We want to show that we are ready to take the final steps and then celebrate together at the end.”
RB Leipzig v Hoffenheim
Marco Rose: “We need to take the game on and be aggressive in the duels on the day. TSG have embraced their fight for survival. The players are there for each other and that shows out on the pitch.
“They’re going into a lot of duels and are covering a lot of distance. Therefore, our job is to match this intensity and aggression. They have an easy outlet due to Bebou’s pace. They often attack down the right with Kaderabek, so we’ll be ready for that.
“If someone had told us after our poor start to the season that we’d still have a real chance of qualifying for the Champions League, we’d all have been pleased.
“We have our objectives and are doing everything we can to achieve them. We’re concentrating on what we can do, rather than what we might not manage. We need a good performance on Saturday and consequently a good result, because we played well in Leverkusen but didn’t get the result to match.”
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “One should distinguish between the stability of the performances and the results, because in Leipzig’s case there’s a discrepancy there. They also played a very good game in Leverkusen but didn’t get their reward. RB changed their formation several matches ago; we’ll see what system they line up in against us. They have very many strong players and many elements of their play work well. We want to circumvent their counter-pressing and offer them little space in possession.
“I’ve been with the team for 11 weeks now. We’ve continuously taken steps forward; the game against Cologne was our first step backward. Now it’s a case of taking two steps forward again.
“There are no easy opponents in the Bundesliga; they are all competitive. It’s down to us to produce our performance in Leipzig. My focus is not on the opponent. Of course, we analyse them and see their strengths, but we focus on our performance.”
Union Berlin v Bayer Leverkusen
Urs Fischer: “Bayer Leverkusen are a team in very good form, if not the best team in the league at the moment and their series of 13 games without defeat, and the few goals conceded speak for themselves.
“As a team they are stable and very disciplined. They have many players who can make the difference as well as enormous speed going forwards. All in all, it will be a very demanding task for us and we will have to be very concentrated.”
Xabi Alonso: “The fans will push both teams to the limit. The Stadion An der Alten Försterei is a beautiful venue. Union are very hard to beat there, we know that and we’re well prepared. We’re expecting an intense, hard and very physical game.
“Union coach Urs Fischer has a good connection with the players. They have a good mentality in the team. I’ve never played there myself, but you can tell that the relationship between the fans and the team is very special.
“We’re fully focused. There are still five games to go before the end of this Bundesliga season. May is the most important phase of the season. Union Berlin is third in the table, they deserve it and are a real top opponent. We can expect a tough game but of course we hope for a positive outcome.”
Köln v Freiburg
Steffen Baumgart: “The opponent is in outstanding form. I wish for a game as equals. Freiburg play very efficiently and has developed enormously over the past three years. I look forward to the duel. This is also due to my colleague. I’m assuming that things will not only get hot on the outside, but also on the pitch. The stadium will be full, our boys will give their all. We want to win.
“SC is one of the clubs that work the most consistently and solidly. It is one of the healthiest clubs in Germany. They keep getting better every year. They have worked hard for the opportunities they now have and have earned them as a result. There isn’t a department that isn’t doing well. They continuously do a good job through the youth department and the women’s department. Freiburg is a good example of what can happen when you work continuously and follow the path you have chosen.”
“Christian [Streich] has been with us for a very long time, he has the longest tenure in the Bundesliga. I look forward to seeing him again. Both teams can play good football. Not only he is convinced that he is doing a good job, but every coach who plays against his team. I’m looking forward to the duel.”
Christian Streich: “The team are still incredibly hungry, It will be important to deal with Köln’s passion, it will be loud and passionate on Saturday.
“Passion will be a foundation for a good performance in Cologne. But we need full energy. Köln are safe and can play free of worry.”
Eintracht Frankfurt v Augsburg
Oliver Glasner: “Augsburg have failed to get a win in their last six, but they’ve been in the lead on plenty of occasions – they just couldn’t hold on until the end. They go for man-marking more or less across the whole pitch and they’ll be looking to get us involved in intensive tussles. I’m expecting a match where there won’t be many lulls – they play with a lot of pace, energy and take the direct route. With their inverted wingers and burly strikers, they have a lot of presence in the middle and look to get shots away quickly.
“We need to be more ambitious when facing the opponents’ goal and be prepared to take a few more risks going forward. We can’t afford to get too bogged down in simply keeping possession, and that’s something we’ve been working on this week. We want to be more purposeful, more direct and more consistent in getting the ball forward. Sometimes this might mean that a pass goes astray, but when it does come off, we’ll pose a threat.
“We need to free ourselves from the pressure. When you man-mark like Augsburg and lose the ball, then spaces will open up. We need to be prepared to make the most of them quickly, and be more purposeful, more direct and more consistent than we have been of late.”
Enrico Maaßen: “We don’t want to look too much above or below us in the table. We have to pick up points ourselves and have the ambition to get three points every weekend.
“Frankfurt are not in a good period at the moment, but they are still a team that have played in the Champions League.”
VfB Stuttgart v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Sebastian Hoeneß: “We’ll have to defend tightly and as a unit against Gladbach. They’re a very good footballing side. Gladbach don’t attack as high as Augsburg but rely on more technical play and have real individual quality.
“They’re resistant to pressing in some positions, so we’ll also need a certain resilience in our play. We want to prepare the best we possibly can and take maximum points. I get the feeling that the balance between the determination to win and being relaxed is just right.”
Daniel Farke: “The last moment always counts. It is important for the feeling that is carried into the new season. We want to finish the season as strong and with as many points as possible. However, there is also a full preparation between the current season and the new one, and a new chapter will start for Borussia in the summer.
“When they were in trouble this season, Stuttgart left no stone unturned and created a real togetherness. They have also picked up a lot of points in recent weeks. I expect them to play very aggressively again on Saturday and bring a high intensity onto the pitch. They will try to use their support at the stadium to their advantage and impose it on us.
“I expect a heated atmosphere. We know that we have to face this intensity and these emotions head on. We have to play with a lot of heart but at the same time keep our heads. The necessary balance will be the key.
Schalke v Werder Bremen
Thomas Reis: “Anything is possible together with our fans. Their support has been fantastic all season. You are under pressure in any Bundesliga game, that’s nothing new for us. We can only control what happens in our own games.
“We have to win the duels, function as a team throughout the match and show that we want to win the game. Bremen have other dangerous players too. We can’t just focus on their strikers. Our style of play needs to force the opposition into making mistakes.”
Ole Werner: “It was obvious to the team that the extraordinary experience in Berlin gave them momentum. As nice as this experience was, we can’t take anything from it at Schalke.
“Winning games in this league requires maximum effort from us and we can only concentrate on our task – that is to play a good game against Schalke. They strengthened themselves well in the winter, and the coach also brought structure to the team.
“Schalke need every point, you can feel that on the pitch. They’re back in business with their power and directness – we have to bring the good feeling from the training week to the pitch.”
Bayern Munich v Hertha Berlin (Sunday)
Thomas Tuchel: “The day before yesterday and yesterday we had two very good sessions. The mood is as we would like it to be. The situation is more difficult, but not hopeless. We have to in all improve areas, but I think we’re ready.
“We are very honest with each other, very critical. The team knows my opinion on the Mainz game. In sport there is always the opportunity to make up for it. We lost points after taking the lead in the last couple of games. Honesty and openness are key the best manners.
“We’ve shown that we can do it. It’s more the consistency every three days that we lack. But that doesn’t just require the will, but also a certain freshness and energy. We’ll do everything we can to get a reaction to show. It’s not too late.
“Hertha is unpredictable with the change of coach. That’s why we have one more reason to focus completely on ourselves. Nothing is easy for us at the moment. The situation is crystal clear. We have to bite our teeth and approach the whole thing on an equal footing. We have to deliver. Over From the point of view of the table, it makes no sense for us to discuss the starting position, also because of the last results.
“I don’t even know if I’m watching Dortmund today. For us, the starting position is clear: We no longer have it in our own hands and now we have to get 15 points. We have to improve. It’s not too late to show a reaction . More than ever, it’s all about us. We have to deliver and then hope that’s enough.”
Pal Dardai: “Of course, we’ll try to get the most out of the game in Munich. We have to make better use of our set pieces, which we worked on in training this week. We need to stay focused, even with a few players out injured.
“Ibo Maza is a versatile attacking player who has impressed with his ball control and finishing. He has already been in the squad but now it’s about introducing him into the first team.
“Last week there were a few things I had to criticise, but today in training you could really see the togetherness of the team. The team spirit is there in the dressing room, but now we also have to see that on the pitch.”
VfL Wolfsburg v Mainz (Sunday)
Niko Kovac: To follow…
Bo Svensson: “We have continued to go about our work in the normal way. Winning or losing 10 games in a row doesn’t change that. Our approach remains the same. We wouldn’t have come from behind against Bayern without our substitutes. We’ve got lots of quality in our squad and need every player.
“Both teams are in good shape, so I can imagine it being a really close game.”