Bundesliga match preview: 1.FC Köln v Werder Bremen

The weekend action gets underway on Friday with Köln hosting Werder Bremen at the Rhein Energie Stadion. The Billy Goats finally got their first win under Timo Schultz against Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday 20, but were denied a second victory when they failed to maintain their 1-0 late lead last week against Hoffenheim conceding a 94th minute equaliser. Their cushion ahead of the bottom two is only four points so they are still in a precarious position and need to start picking up wins (especially at home). 

Their forthcoming fixtures after this weekend see them face Stuttgart, Bayer Leverkusen, a Rheinderby away at Mönchengladbach and RB Leipzig, so every point they secure could be vital if they are to extend their five-year stay in the Bundesliga. 

They do however rather enjoy playing Werder Bremen in the Domstadt and haven’t lost any of their past eleven Bundesliga clashes with the Hanseaten at Rhein Energie Stadion. Last season saw them begin the Rückrunde with a 7-1 triumph- their  biggest top-flight winning margin for over 30 years.

Köln coach Timo Schultz began his playing career at Werder Bremen in the youth ranks before making 107 appearances for Werder II. He didn’t make any first-team team appearances before moving on to VfL Lübeck, Holstein Kiel and St. Pauli. 

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Werder finished the first half of the season just six points ahead of 17th place Mainz and were by no means immune from the worry of being sucked into the relegation dogfight. However, a very good start to 2024 has seen them climb to tenth with three consecutive victories (including a 1-0 win at the Allianz Arena).

That winning run however came to an end last week at home to Heidenheim, which put a slight dampener on their 125th anniversary celebrations, but coach Ole Werner will want to see an instant reaction when they open the weekend’s proceedings on Friday. A win could see Werder temporarily leapfrog Heidenheim, Hoffenheim and Freiburg into seventh place and the heady heights of the top half of the league table. 

Team news:


Centre back Julian Chabot has to sit this one out due to suspension, so Timo Schultz will likely swap in Timo Hubers, who missed the last game versus Hoffenheim through illness. Ex-Werder striker Davie Selke, Mark Uth and Luca Waldschmidt all remain longer term injury absentees so Jan Thielmann should continue to lead the attack after opening his scoring account this season in the win over Frankfurt.

Possible line-up: Schwäbe – Schmitz, Hübers, Heintz, Finkgräfe – Huseinbasic, Martel – Alidou, Kainz, Maina – Thielmann

Werder Bremen

Defensive duo Amos Pieper and Milos Veljkovic are both sidelined through injury, while Niklas Stark is also a doubt for this game after coming off at half-time last week against Heidenheim with a knock. New signing Julian Malatini could be set for a first start.  

Mitchell Weiser has missed the last three games with a groin issue but is close to a return, while late decisions will be made over the possible availability of both Leandro Bittencourt and Naby Keita who have been suffering with illness.

Possible line-up: Zetterer – Malatini, Friedl, A. Jung – Weiser, Lynen, Agu – Schmid, Stage – Ducksch, Njinmah

What they’re saying:


Timo Schultz: “Werder got off to a very good start to the year, they scored a coup at Bayern Munich – and not even undeservedly. They collected significantly more points in the first four games than in the first half of the season. I think they found each other and specifically strengthened themselves in one position or another over the winter. There is a structure that has grown together, developed in the first half of the season and is now scoring points accordingly. 

“That could even be a little role model for us if you stay stable, believe in yourself, work on the issues and bring continuity to the pitch so that you can then start a small series. What concerns me personally: Werder was my first club, back when I came to boarding school from East Frisia. I had great years there, Werder is a great club. I’m always happy when I can go to the stadium and meet old friends.

“We will need every player. Whether it’s the 17 games in a row or maybe just nine minutes – that can also be the decisive nine minutes.”

Werder Bremen

Ole Werner: “It’s only matchday 22, so the table isn’t playing a role in our strategy at this stage. It would be different if there were only two games left, but right now, both teams are just looking to collect all three points. They’ve found their feet and have brought even more pace into their game. Their playing style has stayed the same for the most part, but getting a new head coach will certainly have given them a new lease of life.

“We’re prepared for the fact that it can happen, but we ultimately have no control over the situation. If something arises, we will try to make the best possible use of the break in play.”

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11/02/24  Hoffenheim (a) 1-1 D  (Bundesliga)

03/02/24  Eintracht Frankfurt (h) 2-0 W  (Bundesliga)

27/01/24  VfL Wolfsburg (a) 1-1 D  (Bundesliga)

20/01/24  Borussia Dortmund (h) 0-4 L  (Bundesliga)

13/01/24  Heidenheim (h) 1-1 D  (Bundesliga)

Werder Bremen

10/02/24  Heidenheim (h) 1-2 L  (Bundesliga)

03/02/24  Mainz (a) 0-1 W  (Bundesliga)

27/01/24  Freiburg (h) 3-1 W  (Bundesliga)

21/01/24  Bayern Munich (a) 0-1 W  (Bundesliga)

14/01/24  VfL Bochum (a) 1-1 D  (Bundesliga)

Last time:

The corresponding fixture last season at the Rhein Energie Stadion took place on matchday 16 as the Bundesliga awoke from its winter break. Köln caught Werder still emerging from their slumber and handed out a 7-1 thrashing to their northern guests.

The hosts raced into a 5-0 lead in the first half with goals from Linton Maina, two from Steffen Tiffes, Ellyes Skhiri and Denis Huseinbasic. Werder did get one back just before the break through Niclas Füllkrug, but there was no way back from the first half blitz and the Billy Goats added two further goals in the second 45 minutes via midfielder Skhiri and a Marco Friedl own goal.  

Players to watch:


The club’s transfer ban means that they have not been able to add to their squad in the winter window and have had to look to their own ranks for fresh additions. One such player given a chance and currently proving he is ready for the Bundesliga step is left back Max Finkgräfe. He scored with a stunning direct free-kick last week against Hoffenheim and is certainly one to watch as he continues to impress at the start of his career. 

Werder Bremen

The departure of Niclas Füllkrug was always going to be felt at Werder Bremen, but coach Ole Werner has developed a new attacking partnership with the speedy Justin Njinmah used alongside Marvin Ducksch. The 23-year-old has four goals and two assists so far and although different in style and physique to Füllkrug, is proving a very good foil in the Werder attacking line. 

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About Mathew Burt 1058 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

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