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 34 is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
Borussia Dortmund v Mainz
Edin Terzic: “It is probably the most beautiful game so far that lies ahead of me. Of course, it’s a very special week for us, because it will be the last match of the season. We have played ourselves into this position, and that has prompted a great deal of euphoria. That’s exactly what we wanted.
“Nevertheless, the key is to do nothing different. We’re trying to repeat everything we’ve done well up to this point.” All the organisational issues were tackled at the beginning of the week, so the focus since Tuesday has been entirely on the game with Mainz.
“We know that we have an important game at the weekend, with all the things that go with it. There are moments that can go well, there are moments that can go badly. But the beautiful thing is: the pitch is just as big as it was last week, the ball is just as round, we will start with eleven players, and they are all up for winning the game.
“It has been a beautiful journey we have been on together so far. We want to cap it off with a victory on Saturday. We are not there yet, but we are ready to take the final step together: as a team, as a club, as a city.”
Bo Svensson: “It is of course a special game, but we will do our part and focus, as always, on what we can influence. When you lose four in a row, it isn’t the nicest feeling, but it can happen and you have to find a way to deal with it.
“You don’t often get the chance to play in a game like this one. We want to enjoy it.”
RB Leipzig v Schalke
Marco Rose: “We will put out a strong line-up tomorrow. Everyone’s fit apart from Péter Gulácsi. The aim is to keep the boys in a rhythm for the cup final and win the match.
“Schalke are the 8th-best side in the second half of the season and have taken on the relegation fight. They’ve really pulled together in recent months. It’ll be a challenge, but that’s the Bundesliga for you.”
Thomas Reis: “We know that we need a good result ourselves. We can only influence our own game, not the other results unfortunately. It’s therefore important that we focus on ourselves and get the job done.
“I wouldn’t bother travelling to Leipzig if I didn’t believe we could still stay up,. We will try all we can to get the three points. It will definitely be difficult against a team like RB, but not impossible. It’s not a normal situation because you have to look at other results too. We most certainly won’t be playing for just a point.
“RB may not be able to play to their best if we play with real aggression from the first whistle. It’s up to us. RB have the squad to replace any player. We have to focus on ourselves.
“We hit rock bottom back then [January’s 6-1 defeat to Leipzig]. We’re eighth in a table representing the second half of the season. We’ve gone in the right direction over the past weeks and months and want to show this once again in Leipzig. I believe in the lads and I believe we can achieve our goal together.”
Union Berlin v Werder Bremen
Urs Fischer: “The game will be a challenge for us. Even though Bremen’s recent results have not all been good, we have to be careful. They have a well-organised and compact team that follows a clear match plan, especially with the target players Füllkrug and Ducksch. So, as always, we need a good day, because Werder will certainly not give us anything.”
Ole Werner: “They deserve to be at the top end and they’ve always demonstrated their quality. We’re preparing for an away game against a top side who will to everything then can to consolidate their place in the table, but we also want to get the win.
“We will try to perform to the best of our ability as in the other 33 games of the season. Our task is to get the best out of ourselves and win the game if possible.”
Köln v Bayern Munich
Steffen Baumgart: “Bayern are a strong team, they will try to steer the game in their own way. Nevertheless, we will play our football. We know what kind of quality is in store for us, even when I read what Bayern can’t do now. We have to deliver an absolute top performance to have a chance. We want that. We go into the duel with a lot of respect.
“There is nothing better than being able to play against Bayern Munich at all. I’m looking forward to a great opponent. At the time, the change of coach from Julian Nagelsmann to Thomas Tuchel came as a surprise. As a team there are always phases where things are going better and sometimes worse. Bayern is now in a phase, in a total of eleven years, in which things are going a little worse and everyone hits out immediately.
“If you have to motivate someone against Bayern, then you in the wrong place. I’m glad we’re safe. Looking at the schedule and Bayern Munich as the last opponents, I hoped that we would be safe in the league. From my point of view we played a very good season with 42 points. Now we have the chance to get 45 points. Bayern is still the best team we have in Germany. Far too many negative things are written about them for me.”
Thomas Tuchel: “Unfortunately, we don’t need to look at the other game anymore. It’s crystal clear to us: we have to win, then we can see. Our situation is absolutely clear: we have to win and need help from the support. Anything can happen, in any game. There just has to be a little inattentiveness. There are no messages from me to BVB either. We have enough to do for ourselves. We messed up more often. It’s our duty to the end to give everything. It won’t be a season that satisfies us.
“Nevertheless, we have to go to the end, regardless of how things are in the other places. When you work for FC Bayern, you always have to give everything, up to final whistle.
“We’re not happy with the results. It’s our job to play more dominantly, faster and more fluently, to play more flawlessly. We’re not succeeding at the moment. We’re staying with ourselves and trying to do as well as possible. We’re neither satisfied with the results nor with the way and will not stop working on it.”
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Augsburg
Daniel Farke: “My focus is to end the season with the boys in the best possible way and to pick up points. It’s also about appreciating the competition in the Bundesliga, because there’s still a lot at stake for other clubs. At the same time, we need to focus on our ambitions, as we want to regain tenth place.
“Given their position in the table, Augsburg will do everything they can to pick up at least a point. They will fight doggedly for it, and that’s exactly what we have to be prepared for. They are in a situation where they aren’t necessarily full of confidence, but we are respectful and know that we have a tough task ahead of us to be successful in our last home game.
“After the defeat in Dortmund, we dropped from tenth place, and the task for Saturday is now to regain this position. It would be good for our record and also for the fans’ mood. We will do everything to make sure we are successful in this last game. We owe it to the league and to Lars Stindl, because he deserves the best possible send-off.”
Enrico Maaßen: “We’ll do everything we can to avoid relegation without relying on anything else. We’re fully focused, but it’s also important that we are relaxed when approaching the game.
“Gladbach won’t give us anything for free and they’ll give their all. A full and loud stadium will be waiting for us and that’s what we’re preparing for.”
Eintracht Frankfurt v Freiburg
Oliver Glasner: “I have a very good feeling going into the match. I’m very pleased with this week’s training. The team are pumped up and committed, there’s a good mix of fun and seriousness. We’re unbeaten at home in the league and cup in 2023, the approach is clear: we’re going to give it all we’ve got to win and we want to make the most of our chance to climb to sixth or seventh place.
“We’re only worrying about ourselves. The key thing is that we win our match. We want to give the fans a great send-off at Deutsche Bank Park – they deserve that. The team do too.
“Freiburg are still playing for Champions League qualification. They‘re very stable, they’re always compact and in Christian Streich they have an outstanding coach who always sets his team up well. They mirrored us in a 3-4-3 in the reverse fixture – we’ll see what they do this time. They’re very dangerous from set pieces and have a good taker in [Vincenzo] Grifo.”
Christian Streich: “We want to play a great game in Frankfurt and try to win. If Union then wins, then so be it. I can live with that. The ambition is great.
“It’s difficult in Frankfurt, as always. Maybe we can win another game away. I have great expectations of the team. But I don’t have to say much to the lads. Everyone knows why we won against Wolfsburg- the lads set the tone on the pitch.”
VfL Wolfsburg v Hertha Berlin
Niko Kovac: “As a former Hertha player and Berlin native I’m obviously very sad that it’s come to this, but that’s sport for you. I hope we’ll be seeing Hertha back in the Bundesliga next year. Because of their sporting situation there might be several changes to the starting XI, but I’m sure those who do start will do all they can to bid farewell to the Bundesliga in decent fashion.
“We haven’t done anything extraordinary. Every single one of us knows what’s at stake on Saturday. We’re sticking with the approach that has made us so successful this season. The lads have been very focused in training. We just have to show that on the pitch tomorrow – then we’ll hopefully have something to celebrate after the game.”
Pal Dardai: “Character test? That’s a nice word, but as an athlete you have the character of always wanting to play properly. It’s not a nice week, you have to be honest. But the lads are in full form, working hard to get a good result at the end of the season. For this we pull through the week and don’t let up.
“If there’s an opportunity, we’ll field one or two youngsters and give them this moment in the Bundesliga. It is also clear: contractual situations play no role in the line-up.”
VfL Bochum v Bayer Leverkusen
Thomas Letsch: “Leverkusen have a lot of speed in their ranks and good transition moments. If you let them play in the last third, they have a lot of quality and make it difficult to defend the goal. On offence they are spoiled for choice between a large number of highly talented players.
“It’s the last day of a Bundesliga season. It’s about reaping what we’ve earned beforehand. Everyone knows the table. We have it in our own hands to keep the Bundesliga – that’s the good thing. Whether via a detour or not. It is important for us to have a certain looseness.
“The tension in the team is palpable, but in a more positive sense. The team is concentrated and focused and makes a good impression. We look forward to this game. We have a home game in front of an outstanding atmosphere. We want to reward ourselves with this last game. The only thing that counts is to play in the Bundesliga next year. The city of Bochum is also so enthusiastic because people notice what is happening in the Vonovia Ruhrstadion. We want to send a clear signal.”
Xabi Alonso: “We saw last Sunday what happens if you relax too early. Therefore, I’m certain we will play with the right mentality. Every action will be important – for the game and our future. We know the great significance of the match. We have been through a development over the last three or four months. It was a process where we wanted to be rewarded with a sixth-place finish. We want to win, that is completely clear – for us, for the fans, for the club.”
VfB Stuttgart v Hoffenheim
Sebastian Hoeneß: “Right after the game [last week v Mainz] I heard a lot of positive things in the dressing room, including that we’re not going to let anyone take this opportunity from us now. It’s going to be a difficult task that will demand everything from us, but if we keep a clear head, have a clear mindset and give everything we’ve got – without looking left or right [at other results] – we have a good chance of leaving the pitch as winners.
“We’ll follow our own path and only focus on ourselves. We’ll obviously be informed about scores in games and will react accordingly – but ideally we won’t have to.”
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “I feel a positive tension, but I also notice how happy I and the boys are. I expect a very focused opponent who always burns in home games. We are happy to perform there and hopefully score points too. I experienced a lot in the three years in Stuttgart, so I’m happy to see some familiar faces again. Above all, I’m looking forward to my boys, we want to end the season on a positive note.
“The game is very important to me for assessing the past few weeks. I’m not in the season analysis yet, I’m just concentrating on Stuttgart. Only then do we see what we need to change. It is clear to me that people are very versatile. One can adapt to a particular situation. I’m not just a saviour, I’ve already got promotion in my CV and a single-digit place in the Bundesliga. But I have also learned to appreciate such special situations.
“My first focus is that we win the game. We have many reasons to perform well, but not a single reason to let up. After the game and hopefully three points from us, I still wish the Stuttgarters that they kept their place.”