Wolfsburg midfielder Zvjezdan Misimovic has said the Bundesliga leaders must avenge their shock defeat in Stuttgart to get their title push back on track when they welcome Borussia Dortmund tomorrow. Die Wölfe went into last weekend three points clear at the top of the German league, but after Mario Gomez's quartet condemned them to a 4-1 loss, they only lead now by virtue of goal difference.
Just two points separate Wolfsburg and fourth-placed Stuttgart, with Bayern Munich and Hertha Berlin also within touching distance of the summit. Moreover, Borussia Dortmund have made a late bid for the title and a place in Europe next season, with seven consecutive wins taking them fifth in the table.
"We played poorly right from the outset against Stuttgart and you could even see that from our body language," said Wolfsburg playmaker Misimovic, who has helped strikers Grafite and Edin Dzeko score 43 goals between them this season. "On Tuesday against Dortmund, we'll have the opportunity to put this bitter defeat behind us."
Defending champions Bayern Munich are now level on points with Wolfsburg, and only stay second by virtue of an inferior goal difference with three games remaining. Having won 3-1 at Energie Cottbus on Saturday, caretaker-coach Jupp Heynckes wants three more points at Munich's Allianz Arena against Bayer Leverkusen tomorrow to keep the pressure on Wolfsburg.
"We need to think about Leverkusen now and not about anything else," said Heynckes, who is in charge only until the end of the season while a replacement is sought for sacked coach Jurgen Klinsmann. "We played well against Cottbus but in my opinion, if we'd been on really top form, we'd have won 6-1. We should have scored more goals. It's very important not just to play convincingly, but also to put away the chances we create, and there were plenty."
Hertha, Stuttgart out to keep pace
Third-placed Hertha Berlin are just a point behind Wolfsburg and they want victory to stake their claim for the title when they travel to strugglers Cologne. "Now we have to remain focused for our trip to Cologne," said Hertha coach Lucien Favre, after forwards Marko Pantelic and Raffael sealed a 2-0 win at home to Bochum at the weekend.
"It was a very difficult game, Bochum worked with five defenders at times, and we failed to find a way through at first. We created more chances in the second half and we have to keep up the momentum against Cologne."
With Germany striker Mario Gomez having scored nine goals in his last five games, fourth-placed Stuttgart are at Schalke on Wednesday eager to keep up their impressive run having won six of their last seven games.
Midweek Bundesliga fixtures
Bayern Munich-Bayer Leverkusen
Eintracht Frankfurt-Werder Bremen
Energie Cottbus-Borussia Monchengladbach