x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Chance for Bremen to show their mettle

Werder Bremen play second-placed Bayer Leverkusen tonight in the first of three home games that could define their season.

BERLIN // Werder Bremen play second-placed Bayer Leverkusen tonight in the first of three home games that could define their season. Bayern Munich's poor start to the season overshadowed Werder's own problems this term but, now Jurgen Klinsmann's side are finally getting their act together, last season's runners-up are in danger of getting left behind. Saturday's 1-1 draw with Hanover left Werder in 10th place with just 13 points from nine games, and without a league victory in a month.

After taking on Leverkusen they host sixth-placed Hertha Berlin on Saturday followed by a Champions League game against Panathinaikos. Win all three and they will be back in the title race and with a good chance of qualifying for the knockout phase of the Champions League. "We couldn't beat Hanover but it was a step forward all the same," said coach Thomas Schaaf. "The performance was fine. We were certainly a lot more secure than we have been of late."

Defence has been Werder's problem this term, with the team having conceded 20 goals already. Leverkusen, who briefly led the standings after winning on Friday against Cologne, have scored 22 goals this season. Hoffenheim are the new leaders after winning 3-0 at home to Hamburg and they should have little trouble staying at the top when they visit Bochum tomorrow. Also tomorrow, Bayern Munich, fifth after beating Wolfsburg 4-2 on Saturday, are hoping for a third successive league win away to improving Eintracht Frankfurt.

* Reuters