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 32 is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
Köln v Hertha Berlin
Steffen Baumgart: “Hertha showed a higher intensity and aggressiveness against Stuttgart. With teams that have their backs to the wall, that’s almost normal. They will throw in everything in terms of mentality and commitment. Still, they don’t have so few points for nothing. We want to win this game with all our might, it has nothing to do with Hertha’s position in the table. It’s going to be a difficult game because we’re up against opponents who are defensively deep and who come through the transition game.
“I want to send a signal with my team that despite staying up in the league, nothing is over yet. We have quality, we want to continue on our way and show it. I wish for a good game and a clear victory for us. We want to win this home game. We will do everything we can to achieve that.”
Pal Dardai: “We can’t be satisfied after a win, we have to keep at it. We need a series, which we haven’t managed to do this year. Switching game, behavior after winning the ball – we still have room for improvement. It is important that we take the next step there. We mustn’t slack off a meter! What’s nice: We have a lot of heart here at Hertha. You could feel it in the stadium against Stuttgart, I feel it every day in the city.
“I don’t think we can draw any conclusions from the first game win against Cologne. A unique game awaits us there – with good opponents and good fans. But, with the right compactness and surprise effects, we can and want to catch a good day and win. I said it: Four games, four wins!”
Bayern Munich v Schalke
Thomas Tuchel: “They’ve [Schalke] had a couple of emotional wins with late goals, the faith is intact. They’re very venomous, very brave. It’s a one-on-one all over the pitch in full man coverage at times. They scored a lot from counterattacks, hit a lot of crosses and also use their set pieces to create chances. The sense of achievement has given them a boost. They are the eighth best team in the second half of the season. We have our own goals, we want to put our stamp on the game and win it over.
“We have the German championship to win, we have a lot to win. We have nothing to lose. The prevailing impression is that the championship belongs to Bayern, but we have to fight for it. That’s why we’re chasing the title. It’s important That’s how we understand each other. We’re a point ahead, it’s in our own hands. I’m just looking at our team.”
Thomas Reis: “We have lots of respect for our opponents. Bayern can be really horrible to play if they get going. They are always hungry for more goals, regardless of how many they have already scored. We will have to be prepared to suffer in Munich – I expect us to be chasing after the ball a lot.
“We will do all we can to get something from the game. We have a clear target in our minds. Our performances and results in recent weeks have put us in a good position. We want to build on that and give them a real game.
“We did really well in our recent games and earned the little bit of luck that we had. There will definitely be a few moments that won’t go to plan for us. We can’t let our heads drop in those situations and just have to keep on going.”
Union Berlin v Freiburg
Urs Fischer: “Freiburg has had an outstanding season so far. They have been represented in three competitions for a long time and have a stable and well-established team. Even if there were two defeats against Leipzig recently, they seem very constant.
“We also have to be particularly careful with set-piece situations, because Freiburg are really very dangerous. There are still three games to go, but both teams certainly have enough fuel in their tanks for this crucial phase.”
Christian Streich: “We’re in a good position and can go into the match feeling optimistic. The same goes for Union. Like us, they have played a fantastic season so far, setting up this special clash. We’re looking forward to it.
“This game isn’t about who might be going down – that would be a very different kind of pressure. I don’t feel any pressure when looking at the table. I’m here with my coaching staff in order to make a decision on who will start for us.”
Eintracht Frankfurt v Mainz
Oliver Glasner: “Beating Mainz would mean overtaking them in the table and moving a step closer to the European places. Mainz have been one of the best teams in the second half of the season, but they’ve lost twice recently and conceded three goals on both occasions – which is really unlike them. They’re hungry and ambitious, [but] we’ll do everything to turn the corner. If we beat Mainz, we’ll be in control of our own destiny in terms of leaving them behind and closing in on the European places. It’s a very important game.
“Personally, it’s very important that we qualify for European competition – whether via the league, the cup, or both. Frankfurt belong in Europe, the club and fans deserve that. That’s what I want to give back to the club and the fans. I’ll give everything to achieve that objective. Everything else falls by the wayside – 100 per cent.”
Bo Svensson: “It’s a special game because it’s against Eintracht and also at the end of the season. On top of that, we are both so close to each other in the table.
“I rate Oliver Glasner highly. A good coach is always able to make every team better and that’s something he’s done throughout his career. I generally feel that coaches are sometimes sacked too soon in football. That’s probably not an unusual opinion for a coach though.
“We’ve only lost two home games since the winter break and have had some interesting matches. We need to play good and entertaining football, the kind that Mainz fans can identify with. We obviously want to finish above the teams currently near us in the table.”
VfL Wolfsburg v Hoffenheim
Niko Kovac: To follow…
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “They have a variable structure but clear processes in their attacking play. Wolfsburg have individual quality. Defensively, they frequently press high, they will definitely want to show a reaction following the 6-0 defeat in Dortmund. They have a very young team but they look very stable. The team is battling for Europe, they’ll perform with a lot of energy. But the focus is on my team. If we perform with the right attitude, we’ll have a chance to win the match.
“Nothing has changed for us. We’re still fighting to stay up and continuing to feel the pressure. We don’t look at the other places; rather, we want to pick up our next victory. We’re completely focused on Wolfsburg. The way the team trains and works speaks volumes. We’re taking it game by game and would like to secure our survival as quickly as possible.”
VfL Bochum v Augsburg
Thomas Letsch: “We’re always under pressure. What has changed: We have fewer games and are no longer in the comfortable situation we were in. But the team knows what’s at stake. Everyone knew from the start that it was about staying up. In this respect, the situation is not surprising for us. We have to deal with the pressure. We have a huge chance of picking up three points in the home game against Augsburg. That’s how we go about it.
“We have to bring our performance to 100 percent over 90 minutes. That is clear. We absolutely have to win against Augsburg. It’s not a final. It’s not over after that, but a win would be imperative. A win would change a lot. But we don’t want to go wild. Even if we end up needing a goal, we need a clear structure.
“Augsburg is a team that is not known for having a lot of ball possession. In some things they have a similar approach as we do, they like to let the opponent have the ball. They come through fighting, through tough duels, but they also have a lot of quality in their ranks – especially on the offensive. You have the chance to bag relegation with us. I expect they will stand compact and switch. But we prepare the team for all eventualities.”
Enrico Maaßen: “We know how things work. We have to present ourselves more maturely and need clear solutions against the way Bochum plays. They are a team with absolute tough qualities.
“If we manage to score points in Bochum then things will look good. We have to accept the fight and not allow ourselves to be influenced by other things.”
Borussia Dortmund v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Edin Terzic: “’Our recent home matches have been really good. ‘Wolfsburg were in really good form coming into the game. We managed to play some really good football, and that was down to our conviction, confidence and quality. That’s what it will come down to again when we play Gladbach the day after tomorrow.
“But we have a common goal, which everyone is placing above themselves. We’re happy that there’s more excitement than there has been for a long time and that we’ve played our part in that. You can see that everyone is eager to play. The intensity and quality in training have been really satisfying for a coach.
“’We’ve often had a hard time against Gladbach. In the reverse fixture we fell behind early on, spent most of the game chasing after them and lost the game. That can’t happen to us this time around. We’ll do everything to make sure we’re switched on right from the first kick of the ball.
“I don’t think coming to Dortmund and playing against us is one of the more comfortable experiences in the Bundesliga. We want to show why again on Saturday.”
Daniel Farke: “BVB’s record at home is almost perfect. Every side has struggled when they have played there in the Bundesliga this season. It’s obviously not going to be easy to get any points there. Our away form has not been great this season. We know we’re not travelling to Dortmund as favourites, but we’re still excited for the game and the atmosphere. We have a chance of getting something if we do our job. We won the reverse fixture, however away in Dortmund is a different kettle of fish. We want to take something from the game to improve our away record.
“We know that the atmosphere will be excellent in Dortmund. We’ve seen how difficult it could be for us based on their recent home games. The table isn’t important for us, we just want to play well.
“I’m only a fan of Borussia Mönchengladbach. I don’t care who wins the title. I just want the three points on Saturday – I’m not concerned about anything else. Whoever wins the league will have ultimately deserved it.”
VfB Stuttgart v Bayer Leverkusen (Sunday)
Sebastian Hoeneß: “Leverkusen are one of the strongest counter-attacking teams in Europe and have unbelievable pace. It’ll be important not to give the ball away cheaply and offer our opponents opportunities to intercept the ball. We’ll need discipline and structure and if we can produce those things together, we’ll be able to play to our strengths as a unit too. That’s our challenge.
“The team are focused, prepared to play to their limits and believe they can achieve our objective together.”
Xabi Alonso: To follow…
RB Leipzig v Werder Bremen (Sunday)
Marco Rose: “It will be a tough game for us, especially because Bremen are better away from home. Nevertheless, we know what we want to achieve and want to win our penultimate home game.
“They have got themselves into a strong position to stay up. They have played well over the whole season and have the chance to secure safety on Sunday.”
Ole Werner: To follow…