Ex-Bremen heroes eye win for Wolfsburg
It will be a family affair when Werder Bremen travel to VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday and Bremen's iconic sports director Klaus Allofs links up once again with former Werder stalwarts Diego and Naldo having switched sides only last week.
What would have otherwise been an ordinary league match has become an emotional encounter for the new Wolfsburg sports director as well as playmaker Diego and central defender Naldo, who won league and Cup titles at the Weser stadium.
They were all once hailed as Bremen heroes with Allofs spending 13 years as the team's sports director before signing for Wolfsburg last week after the sacking of coach and manager Felix Magath.
Naldo was lured to Bremen by Allofs and spent seven years there before surprisingly joining Wolfsburg in the summer.
Mercurial Diego quickly made a name for himself during his three seasons there and won the 2009 German Cup before spells at Juventus, Wolfsburg and a loan season at Atletico Madrid.
He returned to Wolfsburg in the close season but was benched by Magath before he sparkled under interim coach Lorenz-Guenther Koestner.
"Sometimes football is strange," said Naldo, who scored his season's first goal with a thundering free kick against Hoffenheim last week.
"It will be very emotional. I played with Diego there for three years and now we are together at Wolfsburg and now Klaus Allofs is here as well," he told the Bremen website (www.werder.de) in an interview.
"But for them it is also a difficult game. I talked to Diego about it who already knows the feeling."
Wolfsburg have bounced back since Magath's departure with three wins in four games to lift themselves off the bottom, with Koestner staking a claim for a permanent position.
His counterpart Thomas Schaaf shrugged off Allofs' departure with a win over Fortuna Duesseldorf for their third victory in five games.
Captain Clemens Fritz returned to training on Wednesday after a six-week injury layoff but it was still unclear whether he would be fit in time.
"I have not talked to the coach about it. We still have a couple of days and we will decide on Friday," he told reporters.
Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich host Hanover 96 with club bosses ringing the alarm bells where a lacklustre Champions League draw in Valencia on Tuesday was enough to secure progress into the last 16.
The Bavarians are eight points clear of second-placed Schalke 04, who will be looking to bounce back from a 2-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen last week when they take on third-placed Eintracht Frankfurt.
Champions Borussia Dortmund, fresh from booking their spot in the Champions League knockout stage with a 4-1 demolition of Ajax Amsterdam, travel to Mainz 05.