'Good performance, average result' was the consensus from the BVB camp after the 1-1 draw in Bremen, where a number of wasted opportunities plus several outstanding saves from Jiri Pavlenka in the Werder goal denied the visitors a deserved victory. But the performance on Sunday evening will certainly give the Black & Yellows momentum for the final two matches. The first of those is against Mainz on Saturday, when they will have the chance to finally wrap up Champions League qualification.
"It was clear that we wouldn't be able to play here in Bremen as we did in Leverkusen, but we still wanted to continue where we left off last week," said Marco Reus in a post-match interview. "Our performance was decent, we need to build on that and seal our Champions League spot against Mainz next week." There are no doubts, then, about the objective for that final home game of the season, which will be played at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK on Saturday.
BVB still the masters of their own destiny
Yet if that objective is to be achieved, it is clear the hosts will have to follow up on their good performances against Leverkusen and Bremen when Mainz come to town. The 05ers will be battling ferociously to preserve their top-flight status for next term. They currently sit only three points above the relegation play-off place and five points above 17th place, whose occupants are directly relegated at the end of the season. But they proved they are capable of dealing with that pressure on Sunday, shortly before BVB took to the field in Bremen, by clearly beating Europa League hopefuls Leipzig 3-0. Peter Stöger and his charges have been warned. They themselves need a win against Mainz, otherwise they risk the possibility of a "final" against another direct competitor on the last day of the campaign, when they visit TSG Hoffenheim in Sinsheim.
Peter Stöger was mildly frustrated that a victory in Bremen would have seen his side climb to second and almost certainly wrapped up UEFA Champions League qualification. Given their superior goal difference compared to fifth-placed Leverkusen, a win would have left only a slim mathematical possibility of being overhauled by the Werkself. But Borussia still have matters in their own hands. "We're focused on the things we can control ourselves. By winning next week, we can secure our place in the Champions League. We'll achieve our objective," said a confident Stöger.
"No additional motivation is needed"
And yet the coach and his staff are putting as little pressure on the team as possible. "No additional motivation is needed. We know that it's a very important match. We know that it's the final home game of the season. We should try to enjoy it and put the pressure out of our minds, because that's how we always play our best," said Julian Weigl. The team really feeling the heat is likely to be Leverkusen, who followed up their 4-0 defeat by BVB with a 1-0 loss against Stuttgart this weekend. They travel to Werder Bremen on Saturday. And as BVB saw on Sunday, it's not an easy place to go.
"It's looking good, because we have a small four-point lead over Leverkusen. We can't allow ourselves to let that slip. When we play against Mainz in our own stadium, we'll need to put in a good performance, get the win and wrap it up once and for all," said a determined André Schürrle, who had immediately turned his attentions to next Saturday once the Bremen match was over. BVB know what's at stake. That was clear to see from the faces of the players as they stood in the catacombs of the Weser-Stadion. Julian Weigl hit the nail on the head when he said: "We need to get ourselves over the finish line. I'm sure that we'll wrap up our Champions League qualification against Mainz."
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