The new head coach is confident ahead of Sunday’s clash with Hertha Berlin after five days of intensive preparation.
The final countdown has started with five matchdays to go in the 51st Bundesliga campaign. Bayer 04 have three home fixtures starting with Sunday’s game against Hertha BSC at 15.30 CET. New coach Sascha Lewandowski is backing his players to win at the BayArena in “the first of five cup finals” (Stefan Kießling) at the weekend.
“We have worked very hard over the past five days and introduced a couple of new ideas. It was a matter of fine detail but the squad really accepted what we were doing. The key factor is our performance on the pitch on Sunday, ” said Lewandowski at the pre-match press conference in the media centre at the BayArena, which was broadcast live as usual on netzwerk.bayer04.de (and it is available there on demand).
The new head coach intimated that his tactical thoughts on the match could involve a change of formation. “We’ve worked on a number of options and the question is how stable it is. We have recently been lining up in a 4-3-3 formation but there are other possibilities. We want to increase our flexibility and we’ve taken a small step forward in that regard this week,” said Lewandowski.
“No options excluded”
The coach obviously did not want to show his hand in terms of his favoured formation. “We can’t afford to make mistakes now or rule out any options that could be very important to us in the next five weeks,” explained Lewandowski “everyone is starting with a clean sheet and it’s up to us all to show what we can do and give one hundred per cent.”
In commenting on the opposition Lewandowski said: “Hertha are strong away from home and difficult to play against and the fact they won at Dortmund says a lot. Hertha try maintain pressure on the opposition and are not shy about trying to score. But, at the end of the day, it will come down to what we do and the solutions we find.”
In terms of personnel the possibilities for the Werkself have reduced even further for the rest of the season this week. In addition to Robbie Kruse and Jens Hegeler, the season is also over for Stefan Reinartz as the midfielder underwent an operation in Basel on Tuesday. Mexican Andrés Guardado is also ruled out with a groin injury and Kostas Stafylidis is still sidelined with a back problem.
Sam almost set to return
Sidney Sam has made significant progress on his road to recovery. The winger was able to complete both the Thursday and Friday training sessions. “He could definitely help us out if he completes tomorrow’s final pre-match session,” said Lewandowski.
Tickets for the Hertha game are available on the day of the match with an additional 1,000 tickets are up for grabs as Hertha have not taken up their full allocation.