Werder Bremen have to be careful they don’t get a nosebleed from being so high after their win last weekend at Hoffenheim lifted them up into fifth place. Another three points against Mainz could in theory see the Grün-Weißen into the Champions League places- somewhere they haven’t been for such a long time.
You have to be a Werder fan of a certain (advanced) age to remember the times when Champions League football was an annual and expected event. Ole Werner will however not be getting ahead of himself and will be more than happy to see his side safe from the drop this season rather than harbouring ambitions above their station.
After their last home game- the stunning 5-1 demolition of Borussia Mönchengladbach- Bremen will feel confident of taking the three points against visitors Mainz. If the partnership of Niclas Füllkrug and Marvin Ducksch continues as in recent weeks, then goals are guaranteed. Defensively is where Werder need to tighten things up, but in comparison to fellow promoted side Schalke, their worries are small.
Visitors Mainz have now gone four games without a win (two draw, two defeats) so would dearly like to get back to winning ways. A lively Weser Stadion isn’t the easiest of places to do that, but they did win at the Borussia Park earlier in the season.
Bo Svensson’s side have only scored nine goals this season with only bottom side Bochum having scored fewer. They rank fifth bottom in the league for shot creating actions per 90 mins (16.56). Karim Onisiwo hasn’t scored since matchday 3 so will be looking to get back on the scoring path this weekend.
The defensive question is whether Ole Werner picks Amos Pieper or Niklas Stark. Leonardo Bittencourt has missed training through illness so will in all likelihood not be available. Milos Veljkovic is also a minor doubt.
Possible line-up: Pavlenka, Stark, Veljkovic, Friedl, Weiser, Groß, Jung, Schmid, Gruev, Füllkrug, Ducksch
Bo Svensson plenty of headaches with some key players missing. Silvan Widmer, Maxim Leitsch, Marlon Mustapha, Jonny Burkardt, Anthony Caci and Stefan Bell will all be unavailable for selection. Danny da Costa and Tauer will be drafted into the defence. Anton Stach is also a doubt for the game.
Possible line-up: Zentner, da Costa, Hack, Tauer, Fernandes, Barreiro, Kohr, Aaron, Stach, J-S Lee, Onisiwo
What they’re saying:
Ole Werner: “It will be an intense game. We will have to secure the ball quickly after winning it and find footballing solutions because they won’t give us much time. They’re a team that play very direct and intensive football. Again, for us, it will be about being efficient in our transitions. We have to be effective with the ball at our feet.
“There isn’t lots of time to work on new things. We look at it game by game and decide what team is best for that situation. Mbom is still out. Leo Bittencourt is still ill and won’t be ready for Saturday. There is still a small question mark surrounding Milos Veljkovic.”
Bo Svensson: “We did well until the 60th minute against Leipzig but we found it difficult after that. There were various reasons for this, but it was mainly down to our opponent. However, we must also say that the quality of our crossing and our positioning in the box has so far not reflected what we are actually capable of. The statistics show that we have been getting into the final third and getting into some good areas, but we have lacked the cutting edge and the quality with the final pass. We haven’t created enough chances or scored enough goals. The end product is missing. That’s just how it is.
“They [Werder] are a powerful side with lots of quality. They have been full of momentum since their promotion, and they always believe in themselves. You can see that by the fact that they have scored so many late goals. They are only spurred on by their success, that is their greatest quality.”
07.10.22 Hoffenheim (a) 1-2 W (Bundesliga)
01.10.22 Borussia Mönchengladbach (h) 5-1 W (Bundesliga)
17.09.22 Bayer Leverkusen (a) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
09.09.22 Augsburg (h) 0-1 L (Bundesliga)
03.09.22 Bochum (a) 0-2 W (Bundesliga)
08.10.22 RB Leipzig (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
01.10.22 Freiburg (a) 2-1 L (Bundesliga
16.09.22 Hertha Berlin (h) 1-1 D (Bundesliga)
10.09.22 Hoffenheim (a) 4-1 L (Bundesliga)
04.09.22 Borussia Mönchengladbach (a) 0-1 W (Bundesliga)
The corresponding fixture at the Weser Stadion in the 2020-21 season occurred on matchday 30 in midweek as Mainz inflicted a sixth successive Bundesliga defeat on Werder as they plummeted towards relegation. A first half goal from Adam Szalai was enough to seal the three points although Josh Sargent did have a goal ruled out just before the break.
Players to watch:
Niclas Füllkrug has rightly grabbed a lot of attention this season with his goals and push for World Cup selection, but the slowly improving fortunes of Marvin Ducksch cannot be overlooked. After breaking his scoring duck against Mönchengladbach and providing two assists, he scored again last week against Hoffenheim. Now the scoring duck is over, he will want to catch up with his strike partner.
Unlike Füllkrug and Ducksch the goals have dried up somewhat for Karim Onisiwo after starting the season with three in the first three matches. A return to hitting the back of the net would be appreciated for the low-scoring Nullfünfer.