Bundesliga Friday preview: Werder Bremen v Bayern Munich

It’s back! 82 days after Bayern Munich hoisted the Meisterschale at the Rhein-Energie Stadion following a dramatic final matchday, they embark on the defence of their crown at old-time rivals Werder Bremen. Last season wasn’t the cakewalk Bayern are used to and the arrival of Harry Kane is supposed to be the catalyst for a return to their usual dominance.

The Rekordmeister will begin the new season as favourites (as per usual) but the chasing pack will have sniffed blood last season meaning Bayern need to lay down an early marker this season. That early season marker was distinctly absent on Saturday when they were dismantled by RB Leipzig at the Allianz Arena in the Supercup, so Thomas Tuchel’s side will be even more determined to start with a bang against Werder at the Weser Stadion.

The North Germans have switched role from one of Bayern’s fiercest title competitors to a side annually beaten and beaten well by the Bavarians. Bayern have won their previous thirteen visits to the Weser Stadion and haven’t dropped a point since a goalless draw way back in 2009. Overall, Bayern are unbeaten in their last 31 competitive encounters against Werder and have not lost an opening night fixture since it was introduced in 2002.

The omens are also positive for Thomas Tuchel’s side as Bayern were the best team in the Bundesliga on their travels last season with 33 points, while Bremen were the worst performing team at home with only 17 points.

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It is highly doubtful that Weder would have chosen Bayern as their opening night opponents, but the prospect of a shock opener (however slight) will be the motivation they will be using. The Grün-Weißen don’t go into Friday’s clash at the Weser Stadion in the best of spirits following their shock exit from the first round of the DFB Pokal at the hands of 3.Liga side Viktoria Köln. The early sending off of Amos Pieper didn’t help, but the Bundesliga outfit still should have had enough quality to scrape past the lower league side.

Criticism voiced by Niclas Füllkrug after the loss aimed at the “stupid defending” didn’t go down well, with Werder’s head of professional football Clemens Fritz immediately calling the striker to order: “We shouldn’t point the finger at others. The offence shouldn’t criticise the defence and they shouldn’t criticise the offence. We have to improve as a team, in the defensive network and also individually. Everyone should start with themselves.”

Bremen secured safety last season, but will all to aware that they had a terrible Rückrunde where they tied with Hertha Berlin as the worst performing team in the league with just 17 points accrued in the second half of the season. If they start the season in that vein, then the omens will not look good for a third season in the top flight.

Team news:

Werder Bremen

Werder’s big summer signing Naby Keita is still not ready to return from his abductor muscle injury while Felix Agu is also sidelined as he recovers from his knee surgery on his patella tendon. Defensive midfielder Dikeni Salifou is ill and Nick Woltemade is experiencing back problems so won’t be in the squad.

Mitchell Weiser and Marco Friedl are however potentials for the starting XI after only being substitutes for the Pokal match.

Possible line-up: Pavlenka, Pieper, Stark, Friedl, Weiser, Groß, Jung, Bittencourt, Stage, Füllkrug, Ducksch

Bayern Munich

Thomas Tuchel has a decision to make over his centre back pairing, but one thing is certain, and that is that Harry Kane will start. Despite the defeat in the Supercup the coach won’t necessarily rotate too much. Thomas Müller and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are both fit enough to make the bench after recovering from their injuries, but there are slight doubts over Bouna Sarr, Noussair Mazraoui and Serge Gnabry.

Possible line-up:  Ulreich, Mazraoui, M.-J. Kim, de Ligt, Davies, Kimmich, Laimer, Gnabry, Musiala, Coman, Kane

What they’re saying:

Werder Bremen

Ole Werner: “We’re definitely very excited. It’s the toughest possible game for us. Both teams have not settled into the season yet, so playing Bayern early on doesn’t give us an advantage nor a disadvantage.

“It’s a new season and things have changed at Bayern as well. Our approach is simple: we’re the underdogs, so have to work hard out of possession, stay compact and be relentless, defend well and take our chances when we get them.”

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Clemens Fritz: “We’re up against a very strong opponent. It’s vital that we believe in ourselves and show bravery as a team. Chasing the game would not be easy, so we need to take all the chances we get.”

Bayern Munich

Thomas Tuchel: “Friday night in Bremen – I would’ve been sat watching that on TV as a kid. It’ll be a super atmosphere, an absolute classic. I love the Weserstadion. We’re expecting an emotional match, an opponent who play very direct, who make the pitch big when in possession, who have a target man in Niclas Füllkrug and quick players around him. They’ll try to move towards our goal quickly and put us under pressure.

“I think that I described my appraisal and feelings honestly [about the Supercup loss]. I take it personally when we lose. I can’t hold back. There always needs to be some progression, also with the coach. It was a painful defeat. It hurt and still hurts. As is often the case in sport, we want to show a reaction. We still haven’t found the right key to open the door, but we will find it.

“Performances in professional sport are always somewhat complex. Obviously, it’s easier when you’re building on positive success. You always have the chance in sport to turn momentum around with every game. We know that.”

Form:

Werder Bremen

12/08/23  Viktoria Köln (a) 2-1 L  (DFB Pokal)

05/08/23  Racing Strasburg (a) 2-1 L  (Friendly)

05/08/23  Racing Strasburg (a) 3-3 D  (Friendly)

28/07/23  Ipswich (h) 1-1 D  (Friendly)

28/07/23  RB Leipzig (a) 0-0 D  (Friendly)

Bayern Munich

12/08/23  RB Leipzig (h) 0-3 L  (Supercup)

07/08/23  Monaco (n) 4-2 W  (Friendly)

02/08/23  Liverpool (n) 3-4 W  (Friendly)

29/07/23  Kawasaki Frontale (n) 0-1 W  (Friendly)

26/07/23  Manchester City (n) 1-2 L  (Friendly)

Last time:

The last meeting of the two sides saw Bayern edge to a 2-1 win at the Weser Stadion on matchday 31 in the midst of their to-and-fro battle with Borussia Dortmund for the leadership of the table.

It took the Bavarians a long time to break down their opponents, who defended very well in the first 45 minutes. Former Werder star Serge Gnabry made the breakthrough just after the hour mark with Leroy Sané adding a second ten minutes later. Werder grabbed a consolation via Niklas Schmidt.

Players to watch:

Werder Bremen

In a different situation it could have been Niclas Füllkrug lining up as Bayern’s new number nine this season with the German international’s name being touted as a potential option for Bayern. Last seasons top scorer in the Bundesliga remains with the Grün-Weißen for now, but whether he will still be at the club when the transfer window shuts is still uncertain.

Bayern Munich

All eyes will be on Harry Kane as he makes his Bundesliga debut following his protracted €100 million transfer from Tottenham. He was Bayern’s number one transfer target and they went all-in to get him as the heir to Robert Lewandowski’s scoring mantle. He got 25 minutes in the Supercup, but that was just hours after arriving at the club, so this will be his first opportunity to show just why the Bavarians were so desperate to sign him. He has 213 goals in the Premier League, what are the odds he opens his Bundesliga scoring account this weekend?

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About Mathew Burt 1047 Articles
Former writer at Goal.com and JustFootball, I've been doing my thing for Bundesliga Fanatic since 2015. A long-suffering Werder Bremen fan and disciple of the Germanic holy trinity...Bier. Wurst und Fußball