The Bundesliga returns this weekend following the winter break and the eighteen trainers have been giving their pre-match thoughts ahead of what promises to be another exciting matchday. Here you’ll find all the key thoughts ahead of matchday 17.
Bayern Munich v Hoffenheim (Friday)
Thomas Tuchel: “It feels like we’re ready. We’ve trained well. There was still some rust in Basel. We then stepped things up a bit. I’m very pleased and feel we’re absolutely ready. Everyone’s fighting for their place. The spirit is there and I’m optimistic for tomorrow.
“I’m expecting a back three/five. They’re very dynamic. We’ll be prepared for it. They have a lot of pace up front. They have a lot of different types of players, can play and are good on the counter. Our counter-pressing will be important.
“Besides Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Leipzig also have the chance to get on a run. We’ve got the chance on Friday to move closer to Leverkusen. We’ve got a very high level but still have room for improvement in the opposition half and in counter-pressing. I’ve got the impression that we’ve taken a step forward in the last week. We want to get on a bit of a run with the three home games. The goal is clear that we want to be champions.”
Pellegrino Matarazzo: “We are going to Munich with a healthy dose of respect, they are a top international team. We need a very good performance. If we can do that over 90 minutes, then of course we have a chance, we’ve already proven that in the past. We are going there with this claim.
“The break was good for everyone. I noticed with the boys that they hadn’t completely finished the games before Christmas. We wanted to channel this dissatisfaction properly. Our focus was on defensive behaviour so that we conceded fewer goals in the second half of the season.
“We simply want more. If we got four points too few in the key phase before Christmas, then that will be a problem. When you reach your limit, you will be satisfied. But we didn’t score enough points. We just want to win games like the one against Darmstadt. We also want to keep a clean sheet more often, just one game without conceding a goal so far is not enough.”
RB Leipzig v Eintracht Frankfurt
Marco Rose: “They brought in two good guys. Donny van de Beek had a great period at Ajax Amsterdam. His development has stalled somewhat recently at Manchester United. However, that doesn’t change his enormous qualities.
“I have known Sasa Kalajdzic for many years. I’ve had my eye on him since my time as a trainer in Austria. He went his own way and proved in Stuttgart that he can really help a Bundesliga team with his level.
“The basic way Eintracht wants to play will not change. The SGE is a team that plays very intensively, defends very diligently and has a high level of speed on the outside. They initiate the attacks from the centre and from the outside very well.”
Dino Toppmöller: “I expect a team that will be very aggressive and will probably press us high – that’s anchored in the DNA of their game. We will be challenged defensively and mistakes like those against Freiburg cannot happen. We have to increase our focus on defensive work again and want to be as stable defensively as we were at the beginning of the season.
“Leipzig is hot, they have played a very good round so far. We don’t just want to defend, we also want to set our own tone. It will be a game in which both teams show a high level of activity and know what to do with the ball.
“We want to win in every game – no matter when, against whom or where. So, we go to Leipzig. We always want maximum success, we are competitors. But there is always an opponent. We don’t see ourselves as an absolute top team, other teams are further along. But we are on a very good path and well positioned for the future.”
Freiburg v Union Berlin
Christian Streich: “If you think that you don’t have to work incredibly hard against Union and are not extremely careful, then you’ll lose. But I’m assuming that the boys know exactly how they have to work.
“Last year we won here against Union, played a great home game. The record isn’t that relevant. What’s important is how we perform on Saturday. That we radiate freshness. That we try to radiate dominance and play a good game.”
Nenad Bjelica: “Freiburg are awaiting us as an attack-minded opponent with many variations in their game. After Bielefeld, we had a full week of training to prepare well for this challenge. We believe in our qualities, are going into this away game with full conviction and want to play at our top level in order to return to Köpenick with something worthwhile.”
Mainz v VfL Wolfsburg
Jan Siewert: “We want the players to be desperate to score goals, to win every battle, tackle and game. We have set this task for ourselves and it’s something we’ve worked on during our preparations. We’ve looked to make more runs in behind recently and got two goals this way last time out.
“Wolfsburg are an extremely compact side and play at a high intensity. They keep things tight, have lots of individual quality and can threaten from both the flanks and the middle of the park. We want to neutralise their threats. To be honest, I believe we’ve got a good team that can beat the drop together.”
Nico Kovac: “The impression I get from day-to-day training is that the atmosphere is great and the intensity and quality of the training sessions are very good. I’m optimistic about the second half of the season.”
Köln v Heidenheim
Timo Schultz: “At the moment I’m still caught up in my daily work. But I’m always happy to come to the stadium at FC because there’s a great atmosphere here that really puts you in a good mood. The tingling sensation begins on Friday at the latest, when the final preparations take place. That’s how it should be.
“They were already known in the second division for being able to win many games with set pieces. They have a robust team and a very good set-piece taker in Niklas Beste. We didn’t allow much in the way of set pieces in the first half of the season, but we want to keep going and go one step further with the offensive set pieces. Compactness and aggressiveness are Heidenheim’s great strengths, but sometimes they are underestimated in terms of football.”
Frank Schmidt: “I am convinced that every single Cologne fan will support this team one hundred percent. This will be an extremely hot atmosphere. There is a team waiting that will give everything to win against us and will receive an incredible amount of support from outside. At the end of the day, that’s exactly what football is all about.
“Emotion is part of football and that’s exactly what we enjoy most about it. That’s why we’re preparing for a team that wants to show from the first second that they have to win against us. That is also expected. You hear everywhere from Cologne that you have to beat Heidenheim. The nice thing is that from our point of view the game still has to be played.”
Augsburg v Bayer Leverkusen
Jess Thorup: “We’ve got a difficult start to the year ahead of us, but we like a challenge. We want to be the first team to defeat Leverkusen, even though they have a lot of quality. It’ll be important for us to not just defend, but also create our own chances with the ball.
“We’ve used our time in the best way possible and developed further. There’s competition, everyone has the chance to impress and to pick up some minutes. The most important thing is to always look to the future positively. We did a team event in order to grow even closer to each other. I’m looking forward to playing in our own stadium again. Anything’s possible with our fans behind us.”
Xabi Alonso: “The winter break was good for us, enjoying a breather with our families. But now we’re glad to get going again. The players have come back with very good energy and in a good condition. We had a high tempo in training from the start. I also liked the friendly match [against Venezia]. We’re absolutely ready, although it’s always tough in Augsburg.
“They’ve very much improved since then, also playing well in their friendly against Hoffenheim [1-0 win].”
Darmstadt v Borussia Dortmund
Torsten Lieberknecht: “This is also a game in which we want to get three points. It was a motivation in the previous season that we could play against such a team if we were promoted. It is the last game of the preliminary round and a challenge that we and all Lilien fans can certainly look forward to. Kick-off is 6:30 p.m., so it’s the late game this Saturday. Nevertheless, it will be very hard work and we’re preparing for that.”
Edin Terzic: “We can hardly wait for things to get going again, so that we can finally work on improving our situation in the Bundesliga. The preparation was extremely short, but we tried to use every second to improve our game. Our clear goal is to go to Darmstadt and get off to a good start.”
VfL Bochum v Werder Bremen (Sunday)
Thomas Letsch: To follow…
Ole Werner: To follow…
Borussia Mönchengladbach v VfB Stuttgart
Gerardo Seoane: To follow…
Sebastian Hoeneß: To follow…