Bayern Munich’s top spot in the Bundesliga table could be on the line once again when they meet in-form Werder Bremen on Saturday.
Bayern Munich’s triumphant 4-2 victory over Borussia Dortmund in last weekend’s Der Klassiker served as a massive boost in terms of morale. It not only helped them sustain their two-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table but also puts them in a great position to extend it in this weekend’s round of fixtures.
Indeed, the Bavarians are hoping to take advantage of RB Leipzig’s tricky encounter against Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday, knowing a win against Bremen should put them under a lot of pressure to perform against the Eagles.
Bayern, though, will barely have it easy themselves, coming up against a Werder Bremen side that has shown great competence in recent weeks. Although the northern giants are not particularly in a good run of form, they have churned out crucial wins against Eintracht Frankfurt and Arminia Bielefeld, respectively.
Die Grunweissen have also lost just once in their last eight matches in all competitions, with their only defeat coming against Hoffenheim in mid-February. They are alive in the DFB Pokal as well and are scheduled to play Jahn Regensburg in the quarter-finals next month.
Nevertheless, Bremen’s immediate target will be to avoid an onslaught from Bayern Munich and perhaps even salvage a point that could go a long way in helping them stray out of the relegation battle.
Tactics & Team News
One of the key features in Florian Kohfeldt’s spell in charge of Werder Bremen is the improved defensive solidity. It was evident in the reverse fixture when his side churned out a hard-fought draw at the Allianz Arena – one of their memorable performances against their Bavarian rivals in recent years.
Kohfeldt has every reason to try and replicate that performance, perhaps even using the same method of employing a three-man backline, with the midfield duo of Maximilian Eggestein and Kevin Mohwald operating narrowly to provide protection for the back three of Milos Veljkovic, Niklas Moisander and Omer Toprak.
The right wing-back in Theodor Gebre-Selassie can usually move forward and offer support for the attackers. But up against Alphonso Davies, the experienced defender may have to camp himself in his own half for the most part. The same applies to Ludwig Augustinsson on the opposite flank, with the Swede set to deputise for the suspended Marco Friedl.
It would be a challenge for Bremen to contain Bayern on the flanks, so it will be imperative for even the wingers to provide support for the wing-backs. Romano Schmid and Milot Rashica, unfortunately, are two attack-minded players and while this does offer the hosts more firepower going forward, it could leave the wide defenders a bit isolated, up against the quality wingers of Bayern.
Speaking of attacking firepower, Bremen’s US international striker Josh Sargent has been in terrific form in recent weeks. His hard work, anticipation and ability to sniff goalscoring opportunities could be essential in the club’s first line of press, although Kohfeldt can call in reinforcements in the shape of Davie Selke.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Pavlenka; Veljkovic, Toprak, Moisander; Gebre-Selassie, Eggestein, Möhwald, Augustinsson; Schmid, Rashica; Sargent
The biggest positive for Bayern Munich heading into this game is the return of Benjamin Pavard. The right-back is available again after contracting COVID-19, serving as a massive boost for Hansi Flick, who was dealt with the injury of Jerome Boateng last weekend, in Der Klassiker.
As such, Pavard should effortlessly slot into his favoured right-back position, allowing Niklas Sule to shift into his centre-back role alongside David Alaba. Alphonso Davies should complete the four-man Bayern Munich backline, although they are set for a tricky test against a Bremen attack that boasts the services of dynamic operators such as Rashica and Schmid, as well as the pacy Sargent.
Not many changes are expected elsewhere, with Joshua Kimmich more than likely to renew his central midfield partnership with Leon Goretzka. The onus will be on the duo to navigate Bremen’s second line of press that includes competent midfielders like Eggestein and Mohwald, while Kohfeldt may even be tempted to bring Christian Gross back into the setup.
Bayern, therefore, would need additional creative firepower, which is where the likes of Leroy Sane and Thomas Muller come into the fray. Sane, in particular, has been in terrific form and could be employed as a runner in behind the opposition backline. The same applies to Serge Gnabry, who is likely to get the nod ahead of Kingsley Coman against his former team.
And finally, the Bayern Munich frontline will be led by none other than Robert Lewandowski. The Pole is hoping to continue on his scoring momentum, although Bremen’s low defensive block could be a challenge and the striker may primarily have to rely on crosses or set-pieces into the box.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Sule, Alaba, Davies; Goretzka, Kimmich; Gnabry, Muller, Sane; Lewandowski
- Josh Sargent has scored three goals in his last three games – a career-best run. He has a team-high seven goals and three assists in all competitions.
- The suspended Marco Friedl is a Bayern academy graduate but only made two first-team appearances before joining Werder in January 2018. He has not missed a single minute of action for Bremen in 2020/21.
- Werder Bremen have only earned one point from their last 20 league meetings with Bayern Munich, doing so earlier this season in the 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in Munich on Matchday 8.
- Bayern Munich are unbeaten in their last 24 Bundesliga games with Werder, dating back to a 5-2 home defeat in September 2009. They’ve won 21 of them.
- Thomas Müller has had a hand in more goals against Bremen than any other Bundesliga club he’s faced – 13 goals and 17 assists in 23 matches.
Player to Watch
Robert Lewandowski’s sensational hat-trick against Borussia Dortmund took his tally to 31 goals this season, meaning the forward is just nine more shy of matching Gerd Muller’s legendary record of 40 goals in a single Bundesliga campaign.
The Polish international has scored at least once in 13 of his last 14 Bundesliga appearances. He has helped himself to 19 goals in 20 career meetings with Bremen as well, making him the number one threat for the home side.
Florian Kohfeldt’s men did very well to suppress Lewandowski in the reverse-fixture, so it will be interesting to see whether they will employ a similar method to keep him quiet this weekend.
From the striker’s perspective, it goes without saying that he will be hungry for more goals as the former Dortmund forward sets his sights on Muller’s record this season. He is indeed one to watch out for in this exciting encounter on Saturday.
Werder Bremen 0-3 Bayern Munich
Werder Bremen historically have a poor record against Bayern Munich and despite their current run of form, the Bavarians may just step up at the right moment to further extend their lead at the top of the Bundesliga charts.
It is largely thanks to the form of Robert Lewandowski, combined with the return of star players like Thomas Muller, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka and now Benjamin Pavard, making them the undisputed favourites heading into this encounter.