Germany's two UEFA Champions League challengers, FC Bayern München and Werder Bremen, are looking to close in on the unbeaten leaders VfB Stuttgart when the Bundesliga resumes on Saturday.
Rostock welcome Bayern
Bayern, who lie fourth, six points behind Stuttgart, travel to FC Hansa Rostock, not the most intimidating of places right now given Rostock have lost all four of their home games. The visitors will have to do without Sebastian Deisler and Michael Ballack is also in doubt for a match where Bayern are hoping to bounce back after successive 1-0 defeats against FC Schalke 04 and Juventus FC.
Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, head of the club's board of directors, warned that: "A Bayern team must not get used to losing." As for Rostock, their coach Juri Schlünz described his side as "big outsiders". However, striker Antonio Di Salvo, who had a short spell at Bayern, said this could work in their favour: "We can play without any pressure. In such a case a win can happen."
Bremen are a place behind Bayern but should not be short of confidence when 1. FC Nürnberg visit the Weserstadion after their 2-1 win over RSC Anderlecht on Wednesday. After a poor performance in the 2-0 defeat at 1. FSV Mainz 05, playmaker Johan Micoud rediscovered his form and striker Ivan Klasnic his scoring abilities in Brussels, although coach Thomas Schaaf will be missing several regulars this weekend because of injury.
On Sunday, VfB Stuttgart travel to struggling SC Freiburg in a a south-west derby. Stuttgart are still unbeaten and their excellent start was underlined by a 5-1 win at KSK Beveren in the UEFA Cup last night. Freiburg's prospects are not helped by the absence of 14 players due to injury. Goalkeeper Richard Golz summed up the problems at the club when he said: "I would be glad if we found 18 players for the squad for a change. That would be a good start." Sunday's other game sees FC Schalke 04 take on Mainz.
Also on Saturday, second-placed VfL Wolfsburg are at home to VfL Bochum, seeking their seventh win in ten matches at home to VfL Bochum, while Bayer 04 Leverkusen hope to reproduce their midweek Champions League form against 1. FC Kaiserslautern. The other matches are BV Borussia Dortmund-Hamburger SV, DSC Arminia Bielefeld-Hertha BSC Berlin, and VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach-Hannover 96.
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