Sunday afternoon sees yet another crucial Bundesliga matchup that will have an effect on both sides of the league standings, as Werder Bremen host Wolfsburg at the Weserstadion.
The home side come into the contest still in the relegation zone, currently sat two points behind 16th place Fortuna Dusseldorf.
Meanwhile, Wolfsburg are still fighting for European football, as they’re level on points with Hoffenheim in 6th place, with Freiburg only one point off.
As a result, both sides will be desperate to pick up the win on the day, even if it’s for different reasons.
Bremen were provided a boost on the injury front during the week, as striker Niclas Fullkrug finally returned to training after recovering from an ACL injury. However, he’s not match fit yet, so he likely won’t be featuring on Sunday. Omer Toprak is also doubtful, as the Turkish international is still dealing with a calf issue.
The Green-Whites do know they will be without the likes of Kevin Mohwald, Nuri Sahin, and Claudio Pizarro for the contest.
Wolfsburg have similar injury problems, and will also be dealing with the absence of Renato Steffen, who is suspended. Then there’s the Brazilian duo of Paulo Otavio and William, as neither will be available for selection.
There’s hope for midfielder Ignacio Camacho and defender Jerome Roussillon, who could both come off the bench after recovering from their respective knocks in the past few weeks.
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson, Eggestein, Vogt, Klaassen, Bittencourt, Sargent, Rashica
Wolfsburg: Casteels, Mbabu, Pongracic, Brooks, Tisserand, Mehmedi, Schlager, Arnold, Victor, Brekalo, Weghorst
Ones to watch
The man who many thought would be the player to keep Bremen in the Bundesliga, things have not quite gone to plan for Milot Rashica.
An incredibly dynamic winger, it seemed almost all of Europe’s elite were after the player before the league stopped play. Rashica had been carrying the Green-Whites going forward, and was really making a name for himself as a result.
However, the Kosovo international has looked like a shell of himself ever since play resumed. In the five games Bremen has had since, Rashica has no goals and only one assist, which is a woeful return considering his quality.
It’s no surprise that the Green-Whites have struggled to score as a result, and the team clearly needs Rashica at his best if they want any chance of staying up.
Will he kickstart a resurgence of form against Wolfsburg with a strong performance, or will Rashica only continue to fade away when he’s needed the most? Only time will tell.
Another attacker who has struggled in recent times is Wout Weghorst. The Dutchman had grabbed 11 goals before the season was halted, but has not been able to find the back of the net since.
Standing at 6’6”, Weghorst is clearly quite tall, and he uses his large frame very well in the area. A nightmare for opposition defenses, the striker was able to head home crosses time and time again for Wolfsburg earlier on in the campaign, helping them climb up the table.
The goals have tried up since then, and Weghorst isn’t able to help out much if he’s not getting on the scoresheet. He’s not a playmaker, and doesn’t really open up space for teammates. His only job is to score, and when he’s not doing that, he’s not very useful.
The pressure will be on Weghorst to turn his fortunes soon, and playing Bremen might just be the best thing that could happen to him at this moment. The Green-Whites are very poor defensively, especially in the air, and have conceded a number of headed goals in their last few games.
Weghorst should thrive as a result, and get back amongst the goals. If he can’t, then Wolfsburg might have no other choice than to bench him.
The two sides put on an absolute show the last time they faced off, as Bremen won a thrilling contest 3-2 at the Volkswagen Arena.
Rashica opened the scoring after 13 minutes, calmly converting a penalty after to give the Green-Whites the lead.
Wolfsburg responded well, and equalized at the half hour mark when Weghorst redirected a loose ball into the back of the net from only a few yards out. Bremen would retake the lead only moments later, however, as Leonardo Bittencourt flew into the area to hit a diving header past Koen Casteels.
The home side thought they had levelled the scoring once again when Jeffrey Bruma headed home a well taken set piece, but the goal was wiped off for offside after a VAR review. Wolfsburg were able to tie things up with 15 minutes to go, as wingback William curled in a wonderful shot from the edge of the area.
Bremen would just not be denied on the night, though, as Rashica grabbed a late winning goal, drilling a low shot into the back of the net to give the Green-Whites three crucial points on the road.
Where to watch
For fans in the United States, the game will be broadcasted live on Fox Sports 1. For those in the UK, they’ll be able to watch it on TV on BT Sport 1, and there’s also an option to stream the game on Bet365 for anyone who has an account with the site.