The first big game of the Bundesliga season takes place on Saturday with joint leaders Werder Bremen and FC Bayern München meeting at the Weserstadion.
With 13 points apiece from seven matches, Bremen and Bayern top the table although they are also level with third-placed FC Schalke 04. Both sides enjoyed emphatic wins last weekend, with Bayern beating Hertha BSC Berlin 4-2 while Bremen thumped VfL Bochum 1848 6-0 away. Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese, never one to keep his opinions quiet, said: "If we play like we did in Bochum, we will score five against Bayern." Bayern midfielder Mark van Bommel responded: "I don't care if Bremen score five against us, as long as Wiese concedes six."
Both teams have form on their side. Bremen made a sloppy start to the campaign, a 2-0 reverse at Schalke in their third outing prompting a run of four defeats in all competitions - including a German Cup humiliation at minnows FK Pirmasens. Things have improved since, with decent UEFA Champions League results allied to better domestic displays conspiring to put them in Bundesliga pole position on goal difference. "Looking down at the rest is a good feeling," said midfielder Christian Schulz.
Bayern have had their share of off-days too this season, losing at DSC Arminia Bielefeld and VfL Wolfsburg. And while they have shone in the UEFA Champions League - Wednesday's success at Sporting Clube de Portugal coinciding with Bremen's victory over PFC Levski Sofia - question marks hang over summer signing Lukas Podolski who had failed to score a Bundesliga goal until last Saturday. They must also contend with absentees Owen Hargreaves (broken foot), Valérien Ismaël (broken foot) and Sebastian Deisler, still unfit after a long-term knee problem. Bremen, meanwhile, are without Patrick Owomoyela (foot) and Daniel Jensen (groin), with Frank Baumann doubtful after an achilles complaint sidelined him against Levski.
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