Werder Bremen have lost their first game back in the Bundesliga following the league’s restart, falling to Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 at the Weserstadion.
Leverkusen opened the scoring through Kai Havertz, and even though Bremen tied things up only a few minutes later, Havertz would score once again soon after. A header from Mitchell Weiser put the game to bed in the 60th minute, and Kerem Demirbay added one more before the night was over.
Story of the match
It looked like an opening game of the season early on, as both sides tried to shake off the rust they had built up during the hiatus.
Leverkusen would eventually take the lead at the half hour mark. Moussa Diaby flew past Marco Friedl down the wing before whipping in an excellent cross to the back post. He picked out Havertz in the box, who headed home from close range.
Bremen responded in superb fashion, however, equalizing after only a few minutes. A corner from Leonardo Bittencourt was hit towards the near post, and fullback Theodor Gebre-Selassie was the first to react, flicking the ball past Lukas Hradecky to make it 1-1.
Unbelievably enough, it would only be a few minutes until another goal was scored. It was Havertz finding the back of the net once again, as he was left wide open on a set piece, which allowed him to head past Jiri Pavlenka with ease.
Bremen should have been back on level terms before the end of the first half, as Bittencourt snuck in behind the defense and was played through on goal. He completely bottled the finish, however, smashing a shot miles over the bar.
The home side pushed forward in search of another equalizer, and had a few chances to grab that goal on the counter. They didn’t capitalize, and were made to pay for it only moments later.
Leverkusen doubled their advantage at the hour mark courtesy of another header. Diaby got free down the wing, and chipped a pass into the box. Weiser flew in and rose highest to head home from only a few yards out.
It was almost four soon after. Substitute Leon Bailey found space in the area, and quickly got a powerful shot off. However, his effort went just wide of the post.
Leverkusen would make it four in the 77th minute after some superb play. Karim Bellarabi cut inside from the wing before playing a through ball into the area to Demirbay. In acres of space, the midfielder faked a shot before delicately chipping the goalkeeper.
Bremen had completely given up at that point, and Leverkusen just kept the ball until the referee mercifully blew for full time.
If you didn’t know this was the first game either team had played in the last two months, you would have definitely figured that out after watching for a few minutes.
Unsurprisingly, both sides were very sloppy to start the contest.
Bremen kept trying to play it out from the back, but their slow build up almost cost them on a few occasions. There were several poor first touches taken, and the passes weren’t any better, either underhit or hit way too hard. In the end, Bremen settled for just lumping the ball up the field more times than not.
Leverkusen, as the more talented team, tried to provide the attacking impetus. However, their spacing was completely off early on. Several crosses were hit into the area with no one in the box to pounce on them. Without a recognized striker in the starting lineup, most players ended up staying on the edge of the box instead of crashing to the net.
Things improved as the game went on, and both sides will likely be back at their best after a few more games, but the rustiness of the players did make for some interesting viewing to start.
It may have been over two months since they last played a game, but it seems the exact same version of Bremen took the field on Monday night that has been taking the field all season long.
They were somewhat threatening going forward, and even created a few decent chances, but they were just not clinical enough in the final third. However, they were an absolute mess at the back, and could have conceded even more than the four goals they actually did.
The Green-Whites were constantly getting torched down the wings, as they could not handle Leverkusen’s wingers and fullbacks at all. The away side kept getting free out wide, allowing them to put in cross after cross after cross into the box.
Things were somehow worse in the penalty area. Even though Leverkusen didn’t play a natural striker, as Havertz was pushed up in a false nine role, they still had several players left unmarked in the area. The Bremen centerbacks just never knew where to go or who to cover, which led to them conceding three headers on the night. There was nothing star goalkeeper Pavlenka could do about any of the goals he gave up.
If Bremen want any chance of staying up, then they’ll have to improve defensively before their next game. If not, they might end up conceding even more goals before ultimately getting relegated.
Man of the match: Kai Havertz
The 20 year old is wanted by almost all of Europe’s elite clubs, and games like this show exactly why that is the case.
Even though he was played out of position, Havertz was still the best player out on the pitch. Used as a lone striker up top this time around, the German wonderkid took some time to acclimate to his surroundings before taking over the contest.
Finding space in and around the area time and time again, Havertz managed to score two headers due to his clever positioning. The finishes were quite easy since he was only a few yards out, but it was still a much deserved brace.
Havertz also showcased his playmaking ability, dribbling past defenders before picking out the right pass on a number of occasions. He never even kicked into top gear either, as things seemed too easy for Leverkusen's captain on the night against a helpless Bremen side.
He was excellent before the hiatus, and Havertz has hit the ground running this time around as well, which is bad news for the rest of the Bundesliga.