Revived Werder set sights on top spot

Only a few months ago Werder Bremen needed to beat eventual Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund on the penultimate matchday to secure their survival in the top flight.

This season the tables have turned with Werder ready to join leaders Bayern Munich on 19 points with a win against Dortmund on Friday.

While the reigning champions have already lost three times this season and are in sixth spot, six points off the top, Thomas Schaaf's Werder are the league's best home team having won all four games at the Weser stadium so far.

"Despite the defeat against Hannover [two weeks ago] we are in second place and want to give the defending champions a run for their money," Werder captain Clemens Fritz said. "We want to keep all three points here."

Werder will be relying mainly on Claudio Pizarro for goals as Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic will be sitting out the first of three games after a red card against Hanover.

Dortmund have somewhat recovered following an erratic start with two wins in their last two games.

They are also likely to boost their strikeforce from the start with Paraguay international Lucas Barrios fit again.

"We have not been getting the results that we deserve this season," said Dortmund central defender Neven Subotic.

"But we now have two wins in a row. We are on the right track and will continue like that against Werder."

Leaders Bayern, who have not conceded a goal or lost since the first matchday back in August, host promoted Hertha Berlin where several former Bayern players have found a new home.

For coach Markus Babbel, who wore a Bayern shirt for almost 17 years including at junior level, keeper Thomas Kraft, defender Christian Lell and midfielder Andreas Ottl it may be an emotional affair but what they all have in mind is breaking Hertha's 34-year spell without a win in Munich.

"If we remain compact and get our quick breaks working then we can also win in Munich," said Kraft, who left last season after seven years at Bayern to make way for Manuel Neuer.

Champions League competitors Bayer Leverkusen, last season's runners-up who have slipped down to ninth spot on 13 points, travel to improved Borussia Monchengladbach, who are third following their spectacular start.