A highly entertaining match at the PreZero Arena ended with Werder Bremen emerging winners and moving up temporarily into the top four. At 1-1 both sides went for the win, but a late penalty scored by Niclas Füllkrug sealed the win for the visitors.
Marvin Ducksch had given Werder the lead in the 18th minute only for Munas Dabbur to equalise on the counterattack for the home side. The second half was an even affair with both sides playing open football as the sought the full three points. In the end a somewhat contentious penalty secured Bremen victory and if the season ends tonight, they play Champions League football next season.
In our regular feature, we take a closer look at what can be taken away from Friday’s match.
1. The Füllkrug/ World Cup debate will rage on
To some it is a quaint call by over-enthusiastic Werder fans to get their favourite into the World Cup squad. To others it is a valid suggestion based on facts (and goals) and doesn’t worry that the striker is ‘unfashionable.’
The stark facts are that Germany lacks a true centre forward who gets goals and in Niclas Füllkrug there is a true centre forward who is getting goals (and lots of them) this season. Tonight, he showed that he can turn provider as well as his excellent partnership with Marvin Ducksch led to the first goal.
He then kept his cool late on to dispatch the winning penalty and bag his eighth goal of the season so far. Which other German striker is doing what Füllkrug is going this season? The case for his World Cup inclusion just gets stronger each game and Hansi Flick was on hand to witness his performance in the PreZero Arena.
2. Is contact alone enough for a penalty?
The penalty awarded to Werder, which converted by Niclas Füllkrug won them the match, was contentious and took some sorting out by referee Benjamin Cortus and the VAR officials in Köln.
There can be no denying that there was contact from Stanley Nsoki on Mitchell Weiser as the Werder wing back burst into the penalty area. The contact however didn’t appear at first to bring the player down and it was only after a further step or two that he went to ground.
The question arises is contact in itself a penalty, or does it have to be contact sufficient to stop the player from carrying on. A second look at the pitchside monitor saw the referee award the spot kick, but the debate will continue.
3. One point wasn’t enough
The refreshing thing about the second half of this game was the feeling that neither side were content with a point, and both went looking for the winner even if at times it left them vulnerable.
Both Andre Breitenreiter and Ole Werner knew that a win would take their team into the top four overnight and rather than settle for a safe point they instructed their team to try for all three.
That led to a very entertaining game and neutrals would have left the game very satisfied with what they had seen (even if Hoffenheim fans left disappointed).
4. Hoffenheim did some excellent business with Angelino
Selling German international David Raum to RB Leipzig for €26 million and taking Angelino on loan now looks a superb piece of business from Hoffenheim. They are not missing Raum in the slightest and the 25-year-old Spaniard has slotted effortlessly into the TSG ranks and filled the gap that Raum left.
In terms of good deals and bad deals, this very much goes into the good deals category.
5. Oliver Baumann is only 32 years old.
Hoffenheim keeper Oliver Baumann made his 400th Bundesliga appearance against Hoffenheim on matchday 7 and during tonight’s match I had to do a double take when hearing that he is only 32 years old.
The former Freiburg keeper has been with Hoffenheim since 2014 and is one of the Bundesliga’s top keepers and it isn’t surprising that he’s called into the German squad when one of the top three keepers (Neuer/ ter Stegen/Trapp) is out.
He is consistent, he is reliable, and he intends to keep playing into his forties. That he is still relatively young for a goalkeeper means his 400 appearances are going to increase to a much bigger number before he retires.