Bayern expects tough Bremen test
The top four teams in the Bundesliga go on the road this weekend
with Bayern Munich expecting the toughest test against a Werder
Bremen side looking to return to form.
Bayern, which has won seven straight in the Bundesliga and Champions League, could finally see France winger Franck Ribery make his return.
"I still have to integrate Ribery into this team," said Bayern coach Louis van Gaal, who has not had Ribery in his lineup since Oct. 3.
Also, league leader Bayer Leverkusen will take on Hoffenheim on Sunday, and second-place Schalke - which trails Leverkusen by one point and has won its last four games without giving up a goal - faces a tough challenge by playing a local derby against Bochum.
Bayern has 36 points and trails Leverkusen by two.
"We want to continue our winning streak as long as possible," Bayern defender Philipp Lahm said. "If we continue to play how we can, we should return home from Bremen with a victory."
Bremen appeared to be a serious title contender during the first half of the season as it enjoyed a 23-game unbeaten streak domestically and internationally. But the team has lost its last three Bundesliga matches - and scored just one goal - to drop to sixth place, 10 points behind Leverkusen.
"This is the right opponent at the right time," Bremen playmaker Mesut Ozil said. "Of course we are under pressure, but if we beat Munich then we are right up there near the top."
One of the keys for Bremen could be new acquisition Aymen Abdennour, a 20-year-old Tunisian left back who will likely be responsible for slowing down either Ribery or Netherlands winger Arjen Robben - the Munich pair known as "Robbery."
"Even though I am young, I still have a lot of international experience for Tunisia," said Abdennour, who will be playing his second game for Bremen.
Fourth-place Hamburg takes on fifth-place Borussia Dortmund.
"Our goal is to keep pace with the leading three teams until our injured players come back," Hamburg striker Mladen Petric said. "So that means it's crucial to bring back something from Dortmund."
Also, it's: Freiburg vs. Stuttgart; Mainz vs. Hannover; FC Nuremberg vs. Eintracht Frankfurt; Hertha Berlin vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach; and Wolfsburg vs. FC Cologne.