Werder Bremen vs Borussia Dortmund Preview: Nouri's men look to kick on in new year

Werder Bremen vs Borussia Dortmund Preview: Nouri's men look to kick on in new year

Thomas Tuchel's men will look to get back on track in their first game of 2017, when they head to Weserstadion on Saturday afternoon.

Kaustubh Pandey

A resurgent Werder Bremen will host the stuttering Borussia Dortmund in a game that could well see the favorites drop more points, on Saturday at the Weser-Stadion in Northern Germany.

After the gap of around a month, the Bundesliga will come back in action with Bayern Munich’s trip to SC Freiburg, but the game at Weser-Stadion could well witness something unexpected, if not just the dropping of points by BVB. Alexander Nouri’s men have undergone a bit of a transformation following the sacking of Viktor Skrypnyk and things haven’t gone too well for Thomas Tuchel’s Dortmund.

The men in yellow are currently sixth in the league, as many as 12 points behind arch-rivals and table topping Bayern Munich. Bremen though, are still near the dreaded zone, despite being on a decent run recently.

Meetings between the two sides had seen Dortmund win both. As Tuchel’s men had ran out convincing 3-1 winners in Bremen and won the home game by a 3-2 scoreline.

A change in fortunes for Bremen?

Bremen, under Nouri have lost only five games since being appointed in early October, winning thrice and drawing five times. Under Skrypnyk though, Die Werderaner had lost five games on the trot, winning no game at all. It’s quite clear that Bremen have become a better side under the German boss and probably that’s the reason why they’re three points away from the relegation zone.

The last game did yield a disappointing 2-1 defeat against Niko Kovac’s Eintracht Frankfurt in a friendly, but the last two league games have been 1-1 draws. And Nouri’s men have not lost a single game in their last five, winning two and drawing three. The wins came against Pal Dardai’s Hertha BSC and struggling FC Ingolstadt 04. And the last time Bremen lost a game, it was back in late November against impressive Frankfurt themselves.

Die Werderaner have the worst defensive record in the league, as things stand and have conceded more goals than any other side in the German first division-34. Their goal-difference has seen a bump just because they lie 12th in the table for most goals scored and their recent, solid form has helped a lot in that. They’ve scored just as many goals as Markus Weinzerl’s Schalke 04.

The return to action and form of Max Kruse, who was acquired from Wolfsburg this past summer, has been a key for Bremen. But the emergence of Serge Gnabry, another summer acquisition, has been more than just important. The former Arsenal man has found the back of the net seven times, assisting once. The two up front shape has helped Bremen in being slightly more effective up front, as Kruse and Claudio Pizarro have predominantly begun to feature a bit more regularly up front.

Bremen have the colossal task of playing both Dortmund and Bayern in two consecutive games and the statistic that pertains to the fact that BVB have won nine of the last ten meetings wouldn’t do Bremen any good.

BVB look for top four push

The league performances of the likes of Eintracht Frankfurt, RB Leipzig, Hertha Berlin and the unbeaten TSG 1899 Hoffenheim have affected Dortmund in a significant way and the abrupt rise in the competition in the Bundesliga has seen the Westfalenstadion based club fall from its trademark second spot to it’s current sixth one.

Although, Dortmund are just two points away from the fourth spot, but their recent form has been concerning. They have won only a single game in their last five Bundesliga outings, losing one and drawing thrice. Their 2-1 defeat at Commerzbank Arena suggested that maybe, there could be shift in prominence in the league, but Dortmund will be out to prove that wrong this year. Champions League exhaustion has played a part in pulling them down, but the gap between the sides above them is still able to be reduced.

They’ve scored the second most amount of goals, behind Bayern by a margin of just three goals. Their problems have rooted from defensive issues though, as they’ve conceded 19 times this season, more than 1. FC Köln and Manuel Baum’s FC Augsburg, who have let in 17.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s tally of 16 league goals would be concerning for any opposition that Dortmund come up against, but the Gabonese forward’s absence due to AFCON 2017 duties may well make the task a bit easier for Werder Bremen. But second choice forward Adrian Ramos isn’t someone to take granted as the 30-year-old has found the back of the net three times in four outings as a striker.

Dortmund haven’t lost an opening game of the year since 2004 and this would certainly act as an encouragement for BVB, going into the clash.

Injury woes for Dortmund

BVB have returned home with a host of fresh injuries as the trio of Marco Reus, Ousmane Dembele and Sokratis picked up new knocks during their friendly win over Standard Liege. The likes of Mario Götze, Neven Subotic, Sebastian Rode and Nuri Sahin are back in training, but are doubts for the game. Sven Bender would not feature and would be back only in March.

For Bremen though, Florian Grillitsch, who signed a pre-contract agreement with Hoffenheim some days ago, and Izet Hajrovic will be out due to long-term injuries of their own. Claudio Pizarro is a doubt, because of a back problem and Phillip Bargfrede is expected to stay out due to an achilles tendon injury.

Predicted Line-ups

Werder Bremen: (4-3-3) Drobny; Gebre Selassie, Sane, Moisander, Garca; Bauer, Fritz, Junuzovic; Kruse, Pizarro, Gnabry

Borussia Dortmund: (3-4-3) Bürki; Ginter, Sokratis, Bartra; Pulisic, Weigl, Castro, Schmelzer; Götze, Ramos, Reus.