Created on 23-04-2019 at 16:00 PM
Four days after FC Bayern's narrow 1-0 home victory over Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga, the two sides meet again at Bremen's Weserstadion on Wednesday evening (live in English from 20.45 CET on our exclusive fcbayern.com ticker). The northerners and the German record champions battle it out for a berth in the DFB Cup final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on 25 May.
"It's always special to go to Berlin," Niko Kovac said ahead of the semi-final, speaking of a "special atmosphere. It's a unique experience, both as a player and a coach," added the Berlin-born FCB boss. Kovac might advance to the final for the third season in a row, but first a tough task awaits him and his men.
Bayern have been warned
"It'll be a cup fight, we must gear up for it," said sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic ahead of the match against Werder, who have gone unbeaten in their last 37 DFB Cup matches at home. Kovac too expects "a different team compared to the weekend. They'll be spurred on by their fans, they'll be pushed forward, they'll be absolutely euphoric. It'll definitely be a bit more difficult than on Saturday, which was difficult enough."
Besides their remarkable home streak, Bremen have withstood tough tests in the cup so far, eliminating Borussia Dortmund and Schalke. Moreover, the atmosphere in evening matches is electric. "When the floodlights are on, when 40,000 spectators create a special atmosphere there: it's going to be a different match. We'll have to be primed. It'll surely be a tight match," Kovac warned.
Ribéry sidelined - Kruse rated doubtful
"Louis van Gaal would call it a do-or-die contest," said FCB president Uli Hoeneß ahead of the knockout game: "We mustn't think it'll be an easy game," despite Saturday's victory. However, Bayern have won all of their last 19 matches against Bremen. "We're confident. If we want to advance to the final we must win the match – regardless of playing on the road or not," said Kovac.
The 47-year-old will be without Niklas Süle, who serves a one-match ban, and Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben, who are sidelined with injury. Franck Ribéry pulled out at short notice with muscular problems. Mats Hummels and James Rodríguez are available again. Bremen will be without Nuri Sahin, who is suspended, whereas captain Max Kruse, who bruised his thigh in Munich on Saturday, is rated doubtful.
"He'll undergo intense treatment for two days. We're hoping he'll be available for the DFB Cup," said Werder coach Florian Kohfeldt. FC Bayern were "out of our league" on Saturday, acknowledged the 36-year-old, although he hastened to add: "But that needn't necessarily be the case on Wednesday." Kruse too thinks his team can advance, despite the defeat in Munich: "We must put it behind us, regenerate and beat Bayern at home on Wednesday. The cup final is our big goal."