Kick Off: Thursday, 30 April, 2009. 20.45 CET. Weserstadion, Bremen
Werder Bremen and Hamburg meet for the second time in nineteen days on Thursday evening in the first leg of this all-German UEFA Cup semi-final. The last time they met in the domestic cup competition they had to be separated by penalties but Bremen will be looking to make home advantage count this time aroundÃ¢â‚¬Â¦
Indeed, when the two teams met in the DFB Pokal semi-final at the weekend it was Werder who came out on top in the spot-kicks to destroy HamburgÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hopes of winning the treble this season. Thomas SchaafÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side might be out of contention for the Bundesliga title but they have been in good form lately and since the beginning of March they have been scoring goals for fun in all competitions.
Having played fourteen games they have won seven and drawn five, scoring three or more goals on five occasions, including a thrashing of current league leaders Wolfsburg and also a 3-3 draw at Udinese in the last round of the UEFA Cup. Midfield maestro Diego has been at the heart of the action and with eleven goals to his name in all competitions he is likely to be key in this tie too.
David Jarolim has not let his feelings about the Brazilian go unknown though as he has labelled him a primadonna, just to spice things up even more before this meeting between the two sides. Aside from the DFB Pokal meeting they have also met once in the league this season, with Hamburg running out narrow winners, and by the time their second match is over in a few weeks time, Bremen could effectively have ruined their opponents’ hopes of lifting any trophy this season.
Hamburg will of course be looking to bounce back following the domestic cup exit, and midfielder Piotr Trochowski has declared that they will be looking for revenge. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Bremen are not better than us. Look at where they are in the Bundesliga. We have played a superb season and maybe we will get our revenge in the UEFA Cup,Ã¢â‚¬Â stated the Hamburg man prior to this mouth-watering encounter.
Whether or not Hamburg are better than their opponents will be clearer in a few weeks time but there is no doubt that coming into the match, Martin JolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s side are not exactly in great form. Indeed, should they fail to win any silverware this season they will rue the recent games that they have lost in the league, including a humiliating 3-1 loss to third-from-bottom Borussia Monchengladbach.
Four defeats in their last eight matches means they are three points behind leaders Wolfsburg and have to buck up their ideas if they are to win their first Bundesliga title in over 25 years. The good news is that even though Bremen knocked them out of the DFB Pokal they have not actually lost to them over 90 minutes this season – and the last time they met, Hamburg were victorious. A scoreline similar to that 2-1 would be ideal for JolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team but the onus will no doubt be on scoring an away goal and taking an advantage back to the Nordbank Arena.
Apr 25 Werder Bremen 3-2 Bochum (Bundesliga)
Apr 22 Hamburg 1-1 Werder Bremen (DFB Pokal)
Apr 19 Hertha Berlin 2-1 Werder Bremen (Bundesliga)
Apr 16 Udinese 3-3 Werder Bremen (UEFA Cup)
Apr 12 Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 Werder Bremen (Bundesliga)
Apr 25 Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Hamburg (Bundesliga)
Apr 22 Hamburg 1-1 Werder Bremen (DFB Pokal)
Apr 19 Hamburg 2-1 Hannover (Bundesliga)
Apr 16 Manchester City 2-1 Hamburg (UEFA Cup)
Apr 12 Stuttgart 1-0 Hamburg (Bundesliga)
The only fitness concern for the home side is Frank Baumann, who missed the 3-2 win over Bochum but should be fit in time for the match on Thursday evening.
Probable Line-Up (4-3-1-2): Weise Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Fritz, Mertesacker, Naldo, Tosic Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Frings, Tziolis, Baumann Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Diego Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Almeida, Pizarro
The big news for Hamburg is that they will be without top scorer Mladan Petric as he injured himself in the defeat by Bremen in the DFB Pokal.
Marcell Jansen is carrying a rib injury but he has told the coach that he is ready to fight through the pain and should start the game.
Probable Line-Up (4-2-3-1): Rost Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Demel, Gravgaard, Mathijsen, Jansen Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Jarolim, Aogo Ã¢â‚¬â€œPitroipa, Guerrero, Trochowski – Olic
PLAYERS TO WATCH
There is no doubt that Diego has been one of the star players for Werder this season and the tricky Brazilian will be looking to inspire his side at home on Thursday evening. Not only is he capable of scoring goals himself, as he has proved on plenty of occasions this season, but he has a wonderful range of passing and always looks comfortable on the ball.
Ivica Olic might not be the most imposing of players but he is one of the most skilful and hard working in the Hamburg line-up and has been key for JolÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s team this season. His ability to create chances out of nothing and his never-ending energy levels will make him key as the season nears the climax and he will be looking to grab an away goal on Thursday.
It took penalties to separate these two sides the last time they met but on this occasion a draw would undoubtedly suit Hamburg more than it would Bremen. The home side know that the onus is on them to grab a goal, and with their visitors in poor form, they should earn a lead to take to the Nordbank Arena.
Werder Bremen 2-1 Hamburg
James Walker-Roberts, Goal.com