Werder Bremen and Schalke lock metaphorical horns on Saturday in their respective aims to gain promotion from the 2. Bundesliga (7.30pm kick-off, UK time).
The German second tier table takes on a quite remarkable look at the minute, with a point separating every team from first down to tenth, reading like a primary school numbers chart. In that aesthetically-pleasing pattern, Werder Bremen find themselves eighth on 19 points, and Schalke in fifth on 22 points.
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Werder Bremen vs Schalke build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
You would have to go back to 1981 for the last time Werder Bremen plied their trade in the second tier, but that is exactly the predicament they find themselves in this term after crashing out of the top flight. Under summer appointment Markus Anfang, Die Werderaner are eighth but well within reach of the promotion places.
Schalke, likewise, have adapted fairly well to new surroundings. They were abysmal last term as they exited the Bundesliga with a whimper, finishing on just 16 points, but under Dimitrios Grammozis, who joined the club in early March, they are showing signs of life in the second tier, with Die Konigsblauen only four points off current table-toppers St. Pauli.
- Werder Bremen (vs Nurnberg): Pavlenka; Veljkovic, Friedl*, Jung; Weiser, Schmid, Gruev, Mbom, Rapp*; Fullkrug, Ducksch.
- Schalke (vs Darmstadt): Fraisl; Thiaw, Itakura, Kaminski; Palsson, Aydin, Ouwejan, Drexler, Latza; Bulter, Terodde.
Marco Friedl and Milos Veljkovic are both doubts for Bremen through injury, while Marco Friedl and Nicolai Rapp are suspended after picking up their fifth yellow cards of the season last time out. Schalke meanwhile will travel to the Weserstadion without the services of Michael Langer and Dries Wouters.
Player to watch: Simon Terodde (Schalke)
If Schalke are to bounce back to the German top flight at the first time of asking then they will need to dig deep in a notoriously hard-hitting division, as well as relying on some experienced heads to keep them consistent throughout the campaign, and in 33-year-old Simon Terodde, Grammozis has exactly that.
Having joined from Hamburger SV in the summer, with whom he netted 24 league goals last season in the 2. Bundesliga, Terodde is an immortal in this division. He has claimed the 2. Bundesliga top scorer award on three separate occasions and twice led clubs to promotion. Grammozis will be hoping for some of that gold dust.
Incredibly, his 24-goal haul with Hamburger SV last season was not one of his three 2. Bundesliga Golden Boots; those came in 2015/16 with Bochum (25 goals), 2016/17 with Stuttgart (25 goals) and 2018/19 with 1. FC Koln (29 goals), securing promotion in with the latter two.
Already this season Terodde has struck 11 times in just 13 games, adding a further two assists to really consolidate his status as the 2. Bundesliga’s answer to Robert Lewandowski. If Grammozis is to mastermind an immediate bounce back, then Terodde’s continued goals will go a long way to achieving that end.
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