Werder Bremen vs FC Augsburg Preview: Both sides looking for a first win
Photo: VAVEL

Werder Bremen vs FC Augsburg Preview: Both sides looking for a first win

After opening day defeats, both sides are looking to get their seasons going. Attention though is likely to be on Bremen newboy Serge Gnabry.

James Rees

After losing their first Bundesliga games of the season, Werder Bremen and FC Augsburg are both looking to pick up their first points at the Weserstadion on Sunday afternoon.

All eyes are likely to be on Serge Gnabry, a massive coup for Bremen on deadline day following his arrival from Arsenal. He might not be the only debutant though, with Jonathan Schmid and Martin Hinteregger hoping for first Augsburg appearances.

However other players will need to come to the fore for either side to win, with both Viktor Skripnik and Dirk Schuster hoping to get three points before the pressure starts to mount up.

History, just, on Bremen’s side?

Bremen meekly capitulated against Bayern Munich on matchday one, whilst Augsburg lost their first league game under Schuster to VfL Wolfsburg. They at least have the comfort of a DFB-Pokal win against FV Ravensburg, but Bremen are looking to avoid losing their first three games of the season for the first time in 49 years, having also already lost to Sportfrunde Lotte in the Pokal.

Historically Bremen have a better record against Augsburg, with six wins in 14 games, however when taking just league games into account, all since Die Fuggerstädter were promoted to the Bundesliga in 2011, they have in fact five wins compared to Bremen’s three and two draws.

Both sides of course struggled last season, and it was the away side that won in both encounters, 2-1 in each case. Claudio Pizarro and Fin Bartels gave Bremen the win in Bavaria in the first match, with a late penalty from Paul Verhaegh for Augsburg.

Finnbogason scored the winner in last season's encounter. | Photo: Bundesliga
Finnbogason scored the winner in last season's encounter. | Photo: Bundesliga

And then in what is actually Bremen’s only defeat in the last ten games at the Weserstadion in early April, Florian Grillitsch gave Bremen the lead, but Alfreð Finnbogason equalised and the now-departed Hong Jeong-Ho scored a late winner for Augsburg.

If Augsburg are to head home from the north with the three points though, they will have to avoid a repeat of their traditional low starts – in their first five Bundesliga seasons, they have never won their first two matches.

Augsburg confident of keeper Gnabry quiet

Bremen will be looking to get over their shocking performance on the opening weekend, with Skripnik hoping to use the supporters and team togetherness to the side’s advantage on Sunday.

“Our goal is to get the supporters behind us and we’ll achieve this by giving everything. Everyone has to show they want the three points,” he said. “We win together and we lose together.”

With both teams possibly looking at a relegation battle again this season. However Schuster doesn't think it is a vital game. "It isn't a final for me," he said at his press conference. "Instead it is a chance to pick up points and we want to bring something back home with us."

"I expect that Bremen will be fired up and demand everything from us," he added on the opposition. "Bremen have many players with a lot of individual quality who can decide games on their own."

Dominik Kohr meanwhile spoke specifically about Gnabry, and thinks that Augsburg can deal with him. "He has his qualities. He is good in tempo, in drubbing, and in one-on-one situations too,” he said. "I think that we can hold our quality against him. For me, not a single player makes Werder Bremen."

Injury concerns but new signings available

Santiago García, Justin Eilers and Max Kruse all remain unavailable, as does talisman Pizarro who is only making slow progress with a torn muscle. Defender Niklas Moisander is a doubt, after picking up a knock to his ankle playing for Finland against Germany.

The big question is whether Gnabry will start, and if so, where? He could play in the number 10 role, which had been earmarked for Kruse before his injury, or out wide. Skripnik was non-committal on what role he would take, describing him as “a candidate for everything.”

Despite persistent rumours of involvement from Bayern Munich in the deal, Gnabry is a major coup for Bremen. | Photo: The Telegraph/EPA
Despite persistent rumours of involvement from Bayern Munich in the deal, Gnabry is a major coup for Bremen. | Photo: The Telegraph/EPA

Given the form he has been in with both the German Olympic team and the under-21s - with a goal against Finland in the week - it is assumed he will start, even though he has only had one training session with his new teammates.

Only Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, Raphael Framberger and Marvin Friedrich, all long-term absentees, will be missing for Augsburg, with Paul Verhaegh and Daniel Baier available after injury scares over the past week.

Potential changes could including giving debuts to Schmid, whose arrival from TSG 1899 Hoffenheim came just too late to make the opening weekend, and Austrian defender Hinteregger who joined from FC Red Bull Salzburg. Philipp Max is also back having also been at the Olympics.

Like Skrinik though, Schuster is keeping his cards close to his chest. "We have a bit of a selection headache but the competition is making us that bit stronger," he said. "We will choose the eleven players that give us the best possible chance of victory."

Predicted line-ups                                                                      

Werder Bremen: (4-1-4-1) Wiedwald; Gebre Selassie, Sané, Diagne, Bauer; Grillitsch; Bartels, Junuzović, Fritz, Gnabry; Jóhannsson.

FC Augsburg: (4-2-3-1) Hitz; Verhaegh, Janker, Hinteregger, Max; Kohr, Baier; Bobadilla, Koo, Caiuby; Finnbogason.

Quotes via Werder Bremen, FC Augsburg, Bild and Kicker.