Werder Bremen will seek to continue their excellent start to the season as they host Bayer Leverkusen at the Weserstadion on Sunday.
After a disappointing performance against FC Zurich in midweek, Leverkusen will brace for yet another stern test as they meet Werder Bremen on Sunday. The Bundesliga giants are coming on the back of a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Zurich on Thursday in the UEFA Europa League and thus, a win could be imperative as they look to get a move on this season.
Indeed, Heiko Herrlich’s men have been one of the most disappointing teams in the division, languishing at the wrong end of the table with just eight points in eight matches. They have also failed to win any of their last three matches which included a goalless draw with SC Freiburg. Lack of defensive solidity has been one of their key issues this term, having let in 15 goals in nine matches and improving on that record could be a necessity against a sharp attacking Werder side this weekend.
Speaking of Werder, they have been one of the overachieving teams in the league so far with 17 points in three matches. At the time of writing, they are third in the table, level on points with second-placed Gladbach while leading defending champions Bayern Munich by one point.
While the Green and Whites are generally known for their excellent attack, one of the things head coach Florian Kohfeldt has managed to address is their porous defence. The Northern giants have conceded only eight goals this term, equalling the likes of Borussia Dortmund, Hertha Berlin and FSV Mainz 05 as the best defence in the league. Therefore, they will be confident of their chances of overcoming Leverkusen in this fixture.
And, here at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over both the sides in their highly-intriguing matchup this weekend.
Team news & tactics
Florian Kohfeldt is unlikely to make any changes to the side that secured a 2-0 victory over FC Schalke last weekend. However, the 36-year-old will still be ruing the absence of the injured Fin Bartels and Aron Johannsson nonetheless.
Jiri Pavlenka has once again impressed this season and will remain in goal for Bremen this weekend while Kohfeld will resort to his trusted back four of Theodor Gebre-Selassie, Milos Veljkovic, Niklas Moisander and Ludwig Augustinsson. Moisander, in particular, is an integral part of the Bremen defence and his performance could go a long way in shaping the fate of his team against Leverkusen this weekend.
Philipp Bargfrede is doubtful for this clash as he’s still recovering from his injury. Although there is a slim chance he may feature this weekend, it’s chance Kohfeld will not take. As a result, Nuri Sahin could be given yet another start alongside Maxi Eggestein and Davy Klaassen. Sahin will be tasked with the responsibility of orchestrating the midfield while Klaassen and Eggestein look to provide the creative flair.
Martin Harnik has returned from his injury, which would be a huge boost for Bremen. But, he is unlikely to start, meaning Kohfeld will be deploying Max Kruse as the leading striker with Florian Kainz and Yuya Osako occupying the wide attacking roles. Harnik could feature as a substitute later in the game.
Probable lineup(4-3-3): Pavlenka; Gebre-Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson; Eggestein, Sahin, Klaassen; Osako, Kruse, Kainz.
Unlike Bremen, Bayer Leverkusen will be forced to make a host of changes this weekend, after a strenuous midweek matchup against FC Zurich. Mitchell Weiser will swap Lars Bender in the right-back role while Wendell is expected to retain his place on the opposite flank.
In central defence, Jonathan Tah will replace Tin Jedvaj as he partners Sven Bender at the heart of the Leverkusen defence. Tah has looked extremely complacent this season and certainly needs to produce a solid display this weekend.
With Weiser slotting in at right-back, Bender will move to central midfield as he partners Dominik Kohr at the base of Leverkusen’s 4-2-3-1. Kai Havertz, on the other hand, will operate as the lone attacking midfielder. His clever movements could be key as die Werkself look to breach the Bremen defence this weekend.
In attack, Karim Bellarabi could retain his place in the starting lineup after scoring three goals in two matches, including a last-minute equalizer against Hannover last weekend.
He will be deployed as the right-sided winger while Julian Brandt occupies the opposite flank. And finally, the Leverkusen attack will be led by Kevin Volland, who will replace Isaac Thelin as the number nine.
Probable lineup(4-2-3-1): Hradecky; Weiser, Tah, Bender, Wendell; Bender, Kohr; Bellarabi, Havertz, Brandt; Volland.
- Werder Bremen come into this game with a stunning record, having yet to be beaten in any of their last 16 home matches.
- Werder Bremen have been winning at both half time and full time in 5 of their last 7 matches.
- Bellarabi’s equaliser against Hannover was his first goal in the Bundesliga since August 2017.
- Leverkusen are winless in their last three. They have never gone four without a win since Herrlich took charge in summer 2017.
- Werder have their best points tally (17) after eight matches in 13 years.
Player to watch
Maxi Eggestein is certainly the most-inform player going into this game, having scored a brace in the 2-0 win over Schalke last weekend. And having scored four goals, he is Bremen’s top scorer this season while also being the first midfielder for the club to score four goals in eight matches since Diego achieved the feat about 10 years ago.
Furthermore, nearly all of his four goals have originated from long-range efforts, meaning Leverkusen certainly need to be wary of his ability from distance. Therefore, he is arguably Bremen’s most important player going into this game, who is more than capable of making a huge difference this weekend. He is certainly the one to watch out for in this fascinating contest.
Werder Bremen 1-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Werder Bremen are the obvious favourites going into this game, thanks to an excellent attack, which has been not only productive but have also proven to be efficient this season. In addition, their defence is yet to let them down this season and for that reason, we can expect the hosts to secure a narrow win over a struggling Leverkusen side this weekend.