Bargfrede hails coach Skripnik

Back-to-back victories in 2015 have extended their winning streak to a season’s best of three, including their triumph over Borussia Dortmund in December.

A further three points would give them plenty of breathing space at the bottom of the Bundesliga.

Statistics already show that, since new coach Viktor Skripnik replaced Robin Dutt 10 games ago, Bremen’s form has been more akin to European football contenders than relegation battlers.

“The coach just always knows how to find the right words,” said midfielder Philipp Bargfrede, who was on the scoresheet in the midweek 2-1 win at Hoffenheim.

“He knows what we are thinking on the field and he comments clearly on this.”

With that form table of the last 10 games – in which Bremen lie fifth – in mind, another win over a side currently sixth in the standings could change the club’s outlook for the rest of the season, despite starting the year inside the bottom three.

“We want more,” defender Jannik Vestergaard said to the Kreiszeitung. “If we were happy with what we’ve got now, then we would be relegated with 23 points.”

Franco Di Santo has been a key figure in those wins, scoring three and setting up the other on his return to the side after injury.

However, he was unable to train fully on Friday and is rated doubtful, along with Bargfrede and Fin Bartels, for Sunday’s Weserstadion clash.

There are question marks over Leverkusen quartet Josip Drmic, Emir Spahic, Omer Toprak and Karim Bellarabi, but Heung-Min Son could be back after a short break following the Asian Cup final.

For Leverkusen, the aim is to win a second game in a row after beating Hertha Berlin in midweek.

“We mastered the task in Berlin and now we come up against a side with a lot of self-confidence,” Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt said at a press conference.

“We’ll accept the challenge because we’re also in very good shape. Wednesday’s win did us good and, if possible, we want to end the week with three more points.