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 16 of the new season is here, and the Bundesliga coaches have been giving their pre-match thoughts.
Werder Bremen v RB Leipzig
Ole Werner: “I want to see a team that creates their own chances and makes the most of them when they arise. We discussed the situation surrounding the squad, and it won’t make it any easier for us – that’s why Leipzig will definitely be the favourites going into the game.
“We want to make it difficult for them in possession, replicate our last strong home performances, and work together as a team. When we approach the game as one, anything’s possible for us at home.”
Marco Rose: “Bremen are always a tough team to play against, especially at the Weserstadion. They’ve got a great stadium and great fans. They have a very good coach and are well-structured in general. They’ve not changed their approach massively from last year. We therefore know what to expect in Bremen.
“We need to defend well against them, but we also want to build pressure and challenge them. We need to give it everything we’ve got tomorrow – that’s going to be important once again following an intense year. We’re heading to Bremen full of confidence and we’re in good spirits overall. We’ve won our last four games, including the Champions League game against Young Boys. We want to back that up and go the extra mile once more.”
Borussia Dortmund v Mainz
Edin Terzic: “They are capable of playing better than currently reflected in the table. But so can we. It’s about building on the last few games, which weren’t satisfactory in terms of results, but in which we still showed some good things. We want to make an improvement and end the year with a win.
“They’ve refound that high level of intensity, they embrace the challenges, that’s the Mainz away. They have a lot of options, particularly in attack. They have quick, hard-working players on the wings and in the attacking half-spaces. That’s what makes them so dangerous.”
Jan Siewert: “We’ve got a chance in Dortmund and we want to make the most of it. They want to push forward and have lots of players who can get in behind the defence with their pace. They try to break down the opposition with their possession in order to create chances.
“You could see in every game that something’s always possible with our approach. We’ll reap what we sow. It all comes down to the team believing that, and they do every game.”
Hoffenheim v Darmstadt
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “Darmstadt is at the bottom, but is one of the stronger teams of the teams in the bottom of the table. They are looking for playful solutions and have two fast strikers. You have to invest a lot, especially defensively. They, in turn, have their fixed defensive processes.
“Our playing system is working, for us it’s about bringing energy back to the pitch. If you have the feeling that you can easily beat an opponent with a little bit of ball possession, you are wrong. The team has to want to defend. Then we will have our space and be able to score our goals. I am always optimistic. I approach every game with conviction and the desire to win the game.
“The mood was depressed after the Leipzig game. We all felt there was more to it. But Sunday shows me that we still have something left in the tank. I feel like we’ve put Saturday’s game behind us and are ready to go again.”
Torsten Lieberknecht: “Hoffenheim is in seventh place in the table. They have a top squad and play at a top level. Of course you want to try to win the game at home. Every team wants to give their fans a win in the last game. Overall, we’re facing a good opponent against whom we’ll have to give everything we’ve got.
“Of course we were all dejected after the Wolfsburg game. In the last week we had games that we could have finished with points. But that’s exactly what continues to make me optimistic, knowing full well that a top-class opponent is coming our way in TSG Hoffenheim. We were only really inferior in two games – against Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. Otherwise, we always had our chances and showed that we have a real chance. We will do everything we can to make the best possible use of this opportunity.”
Union Berlin v Köln
Nenad Bjelica: To follow……
Steffen Baumgart: “Everyone can imagine that the feeling of ending with a win would be better than it is now. We’re playing against a team that’s as miserable as us. It’s about a win on the last matchday of the year and we’ll do everything we can to achieve that. Anyone who knows the Alten Försterei knows that there will be a fire there tomorrow. We have to fight back, that’s all that matters.
“They play with a four-man chain instead of a three-man chain. But you don’t immediately notice a change in style just because a new coach is there. After five years of Urs Fischer, it won’t be that easy to change everything within a short period of time.”
Bayer Leverkusen v VfL Bochum
Xabi Alonso: “It’s the last game this year and against a good team. They are a competitive team but we are at home. We had a good atmosphere on Sunday and we want to play with this quality again. We are prepared and hoping for a good game.
“Pala [Exequiel Palacios] has been great for us from the whole year, you can clearly see his development. He’s hardly been injured, so that’s important for him also to stay consistent. His game has gotten better too, not just here but with Argentina as well.
“We get so much from the fans home or away. We feel this atmosphere. People enjoy coming to the BayArena. The team, the club and the fans are all together, it’s important in football to have that.”
Thomas Letsch: “It’s impressive how Leverkusen is playing this season. It’s been a long time since our last defeat, and of course we remember it fondly. You’re having a sensational run. We know about the quality, but we go there with conviction.
“I am relatively clear about how we will approach the task. But of course I won’t reveal that today.”
Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Mönchengladbach
Dino Toppmöller: “We’re looking forward to closing the year with a great home match against very good opponents, who have steadied a lot. Marmoush returns after illness and suspension. Chaibi is 100% fit again. Pacho is a bit poorly and Koch was only on the pitch briefly today, but I’m confident both will be available.
“It’s important for us to go into the short winter break with a good feeling. Facing us are good opponents, of course, but our ambition is to win.”
Gerardo Seoane: “In Frankfurt, it’s always about intensity and a willingness to enter into individual battles. You can avoid the pressure if you play quickly, but you also have to bring intensity yourself.
“Just like us, Frankfurt had a lot of upheaval in the summer. They lost important players. In some games though, we’ve seen what they’re still capable of. We need an anchor in central midfield in front of the defence. Jule Weigl has been consistent in the first half of the season. He’s very calm on the ball. He’s also improved in individual battles. On top of this, he’s taken on responsibility as captain.”
VfL Wolfsburg v Bayern Munich
Niko Kovac: “All the players who were fit in Darmstadt are on board. The only one still missing is Maxence Lacroix because of his red card. Everyone else is ready.”
Thomas Tuchel: “We want to be better in possession. Wolfsburg have different tactics from Stuttgart. We’re again expecting a back five. We want more of the ball and will now take on a new task. It’s down to us. How good are the movements and distances? Let’s see what challenges the game brings. We hope we can have the right answers.
“We didn’t have less possession against Stuttgart on purpose. They played well and kept the distances close. We knew we had to be clever when we wanted to have chances after turnovers. When Stuttgart gets into a flow, they have lots of possession. Then we had to work hard defending in the middle. We did that well. We had a lot of players playing who hadn’t played a lot recently. We then had more possession in the second half, but you can also have good control by defending well.”
VfB Stuttgart v Augsburg
Sebastian Hoeneß: “We want to play on the front foot and put the opponent under pressure. We are not moving away from the basic idea with and against the ball. We have something to worry about tomorrow evening, we’ll face a team in good form.
“After the change of coach, Augsburg are doing well. They play a lot on second balls and play powerfully and in a straight line. When playing against the ball, they defend highly. With the help of their run they have gained self-confidence. I expect that they want to hurt us with force.”
Jess Thorup: “Against Dortmund, the team showed that we can hold our own against a top opponent. Stuttgart are one of the big surprises so far. They’ve had a good first half of the season and are particularly strong in possession.
“It’s brilliant what the team’s shown in these eight games. It’s about getting three points and a positive end to the year. We want to put in a good performance.”
Heidenheim v Freiburg
Frank Schmidt: “Freiburg had one or two defeats at the start of the season, but recently they have had three wins in a row – each to zero. They are a team that plays internationally, has progressed and is currently in sixth place in the Bundesliga. This is a really good team, both in terms of play and running. I thought it was outstanding how they invested so much against Cologne, after the game against West Ham. Freiburg is a team that finds playful solutions even in tight situations, but is also ready to work and fight. They can also add more from the bench.”
Christian Streich: “At home they are extremely strong and have power. The set pieces are exceptional and perhaps the best in the league. We have to become more dangerous again with our set pieces.
“Basically, it is extremely important that the boys stay clear if they don’t play from the start. I can give the others in the dressing room motivation and give them maximum support – until the moment I come onto the pitch myself.
“On the one hand, we are very happy that things have gone so exceptionally well over the last three weeks, but we cannot be satisfied in any way. Our job is to drive to Heidenheim with maximum sharpness, with maximum attitude. We definitely have to want more. Every point you get now gives you lightness for the new year.”