Bayern Munich will look to get the defence of their Bundesliga title back on the rails on Saturday night against arch-rivals Werder Bremen, as both sides warm up for their Champions League openers.
Bayern host Roma next Wednesday in the Champions League, while Bremen entertain Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday, and both need a confidence-boosting win in the German league before starting their European campaigns.
Bayern were humbled 2-0 by last season’s second division champions Kaiserslautern in the Bundesliga a fortnight ago and will want three points off Bremen at Munich’s Allianz Arena.
Bremen suffered an injury set-back on Tuesday when they lost centre-back Per Mertesacker with a broken eye socket after he was injured in Germany’s 6-1 win over Azerbaijan in a Euro 2012 qualifier.
The visitors are already without defender Naldo, who has a knee problem, and Peru forward Claudio Pizarro, who has a muscular injury, but coach Thomas Schaaf has brushed off the problems.
“Werder always handles such situations well, no matter how many players we are missing,” said Schaaf.
“We have established a squad that is always capable of producing a good performance.”
With Mertesacker and Naldo out, Bremen are deprived of both their first-choice centre-backs for the game in Munich, but look set to hand debuts to Brazil midfielder Wesley and ex-Arsenal defender Mikael Silvestre.
Bayern’s former Bremen striker Miroslav Klose believes Werder will still be dangerous despite the absence of some of their top players.
“I know the coach Thomas Schaaf and he can always pull some magic out of the hat,” said Klose.
Bayern are only missing long-term injury victims Arjen Robben and Breno, but the last time Bayern beat Bremen in Munich was some five years ago and they are eager to correct that statistic.
“This is a point from which we can take additional strength and motivation,” said centre-back Daniel Van Buyten.
Bayern had the best of the most recent clash between the two sides as they beat Bremen 4-0 at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in last season’s German Cup final.
With Kaiserslautern, Hanover and Mainz all in the top five and with 100 percent records, the Bundesliga table has something of a strange look about it.
Mainz host Kaiserslautern on Sunday with both sides gunning for their third straight win.
Having shocked Schalke at home a fortnight ago, Hanover will now aim to upset Bayer Leverkusen, who are licking their wounds after they were trounced 6-3 at home to Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Germany captain Michael Ballack is expected to play in midfield, but Bayer will be without midfielder Tranquillo Barnetta, who has picked up an infection.
Saturday: (1330GMT unless otherwise stated): Borussia Dortmund v VfL Wolfsburg, Hamburg v Nuremberg, Borussia Moenchengladbach v Eintracht Frankfurt, Freiburg v VfB Stuttgart, Hanover 96 v Bayer Leverkusen, Bayern Munich v Werder Bremen (1630GMT)
Sunday: Mainz 05 v Kaiserslautern (1330GMT), Cologne v St. Pauli (1530GMT)
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