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Nov 9, 2006

Werder face stamina test against Dortmund

BERLIN, Nov 9 (Reuters) - Bundesliga leaders Werder Bremen need to show they have the stamina of champions as well as the skill when they face Borussia Dortmund on Friday.

Werder underlined their status as the most likely side to depose faltering Bayern Munich when they won 2-1 away to Nuremberg on Tuesday, extending their unbeaten run in the league to seven games.

They have just two clear days to recover for their next Bundesliga test at home to Dortmund - an eighth match for the leaders in four weeks.

The reward for passing it would be to extend their two-point lead at the top to five, at least temporarily, as none of their rivals are in action until Saturday.

'We weren't brilliant against Nuremberg but we're not a band of magicians,' Werder sporting director Klaus Allofs told reporters this week. 'We all have to work hard together.

'You just can't always play at full speed for 90 minutes. It's hard on the batteries (playing so often) but you learn to recover quickly.'

Dortmund will provide awkward opposition on Friday but they will need to show improved form in front of goal if they are to come away with a win.

Bert van Marwijk's side enjoyed absolute command against Alemannia Aachen on Tuesday but poor finishing meant they had to settle for a goalless draw.

Bayern Munich, double winners for the past two seasons, risk slipping out of the title race altogether unless they get their act together at Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

They suffered their fourth defeat of the season against Hanover 96 on Wednesday and the champions will once again be without the injured Lukas Podolski, Lucio and Owen Hargreaves.

If Werder win on Friday, Bayern will find themselves nine points off the lead by the time they kick-off and failure to make up ground would test the patience of Felix Magath's employers.

Hanover 96 will look to produce another upset when they host second-placed Stuttgart in one of two matches on Sunday.

Stuttgart stayed within two points of the leaders as a seventh goal of the season from Mario Gomez helped them to a 2-0 win at home to Hamburg SV on Tuesday.