Bremen brimming with confidence for big derby
BREMEN, Germany, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Werder Bremen go into Saturday's northern derby against Hamburg SV with confidence sky high and the Bundesliga's top spot in their sights after a great Champions League win over Real Madrid.
Werder made light of serious personnel problems to beat Real 3-2 at the Weserstadion on Wednesday and revive their hopes of qualifying for the last 16.
Thomas Schaaf's side are second in the Bundesliga, a point behind Bayern Munich and ahead of Hamburg on goal difference.
With Bayern not in action until Sunday, the prize for either side winning Saturday's game will be at least 24 hours on top of the standings.
Werder will have to cope without senior players like midfielders Torsten Frings, Tim Borowski and Clemens Fritz and goalkeeper Tim Wiese, all injured, but there are two pieces of positive news for the coach.
Brazilian playmaker Diego returns from his European suspension, while Hamburg will face even further problems of stamina, with only two days to recover from their UEFA Cup tie against Stade Rennes on Thursday.
In any case, Werder will feel that anything is possible after their patched up side pulled off a memorable European win.
'We had a spectacular result when you consider the circumstances,' Schaaf told reporters.
'The important thing now is that we don't spend too much time celebrating.
'We can't afford to relax because we have an historic match against Hamburg coming up.'
Leaders Bayern recovered from a rough patch last weekend with a 2-1 home win over VfL Wolfsburg.
The Bavarians are also in UEFA Cup action on Thursday, away to Braga of Portugal, but they have an extra day to recover for Sunday's Bundesliga game at Arminia Bielefeld.
Bayern are still without suspended Brazilian Lucio, meaning Daniel van Buyten is likely to continue at centre-back. Otherwise, they should be near full strength, providing they come through Thursday's game unscathed.
Sixth-placed Schalke 04, who are also still alive in Europe after a draw with Valencia in the Champions League, are at home to Bochum in another of Saturday's games.
Improving VfB Stuttgart will be buoyed by their first Champions League win, 3-2 at home to Rangers, when they seek a fifth successive Bundesliga victory at home to Borussia Dortmund.