Created on 2019-04-19 at 16:30 PM
FC Bayern have to pass a double Werder test if they are to keep their dream of the double alive. Saturday’s Bundesliga match at the Allianz Arena (kick-off 15:30 CEST, coverage available via our liveticker) is the first of two in five days between the record champions and Werder Bremen before the Reds head north for Wednesday’s DFB Cup semi-final at the Weserstadion. According to chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, they are “two difficult games”.
However, Niko Kovac is not getting too far ahead of himself. “We need to focus on the first game,” the 47-year-old said, “we have to win that first.” That is especially the case with Bayern holding just a one-point lead over second-placed Borussia Dortmund, meaning FCB cannot afford a slip-up on Saturday. “We’re just playing in finals now. We have to invest everything to come out on top in the end,” added Manuel Neuer, who is just as cautious of Bremen as his coach.
Bayern and Bremen in top form
“We’re up against an opponent in really good form,” Kovac declared. Sitting seventh in the league, Werder have looked in good shape of late as part of an impressive 2019 that’s seen them competing for a Europa League position. “They’re still unbeaten this year and scored in every game,” the FCB coach explained of the coming opponents, who are the only Bundesliga club this season to find the back of the net in all 29 games.
“We’re on a good run and the team is full of confidence, so we’ve got a chance to win the game. Anything is possible,” said Werder striker Claudio Pizarro ahead of facing his former club. Should the hosts have their way, however, Bremen’s great run should come to an end at the Allianz Arena. The record champions haven't conceded at home in the league for 425 minutes and boast eight wins from their last eight heading into Saturday’s fixture.
Neuer out but Pavlenka back
“Things are going well of late. We’ve played really well, scored a lot of goals and conceded very few. The team feels assured now,” Kovac said. “We’re well prepared,” added captain Neuer, who will unfortunately have to watch the game from the stands alongside long-term absentee Arjen Robben because of a calf injury. The injury situation looks somewhat better for the visitors, though. Apart from Fin Bartels (muscular problems), Florian Kohfeldt has a fully fit squad to choose from, including first-choice goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka.
Kohfeldt admitted prior to the game that his side are up against “the strongest team in Germany” but believes his charges have a chance. “We’ve also got weapons to win a game. It’s obvious we need a top day and Bayern to have an off one,” the 36-year-old stated. For Niklas Süle, however, such challenges are nothing new. He claims it is normal for “all teams to be extra motivated to play against Bayern”. The centre-back is therefore looking ahead to the double header in relaxed mood: “I think we’ll win both games if we perform to the level we can”.