Chance to recover
Bremen, German champions in 2004, lost 2-0 at home to FC Barcelona on Matchday 1, while Schalke went down 1-0 at PSV Eindhoven. On Saturday, BV Borussia Dortmund visit the Weserstadion, while 24 hours later Schalke play host to UEFA Cup contenders Hertha BSC Berlin.
Ten points from four games have given Bremen a fine start, placing them second behind Bayern, and Dortmund coach Bert van Marwijk fears his side could face a post-Barcelona backlash. "Bremen could have beaten Barcelona, maybe they should have," he said. "It is a big challenge for us to go there."
Indeed, Bremen defender Petri Pasanen is not too disheartened by Wednesday's result. "We should not think too much about Barcelona," he said. "They are the favourites in our group anyway. Our matches against Udinese [Calcio] and Panathinaikos [FC] will be more important."
As for Dortmund, Bremen general manager Klaus Allofs said: "This time, we are the favourites. Everybody expects us to win. We will try to pressure them with our attacking play and force them into mistakes." To this end, in-form striker Miroslav Klose, suspended in midweek, could be crucial. "Miroslav has proved again recently how important he is to us", said coach Thomas Schaaf.
Schalke, meanwhile, take on a Hertha team who needed a last-gasp Marcelinho penalty to win 1-0 at Cypriot outfit APOEL FC in the UEFA Cup first round on Thursday. Still unbeaten in the Bundesliga, the Gelsenkirchen club sit one point above their opponents in fourth spot, although Tuesday's setback had general manager Rudi Assauer seething: "Our performance against PSV was a disaster that cannot be forgiven."
Midfielder Fabian Ernst believes redemption for the Royal Blues could be swift, however. "We cannot afford to let our heads drop," he said. "PSV reached the semi-finals last season so we have lost to a top European side. Now we must regain our self-confidence against Hertha."
Schalke's Brazilian newcomer Rafinha is likely to be handed a debut by coach Ralf Rangnick, while Kevin Kuranyi and Ebbe Sand will get another chance up front after misfiring in Eindhoven.
Larsen must wait
This will leave prolific substitute Søren Larsen to watch from the bench despite scoring twice in 58 minutes' playing time in his first four Bundesliga appearances. The 24-year-old Dane will also be keen to make amends for a last-gasp miss on Wednesday.
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