Two teams on opposite sides of the Bundesliga table face off on Tuesday night as 17th place Werder Bremen host league leading Bayern Munich at the Weserstadion.
Up seven points with three games to go, Munich can clinch the title with a win, which would be their 8th straight championship and 30th in total. They’ll like their odds against one of the teams in the relegation zone, but they know that can’t be complacent considering how badly Bremen need the points.
The Green-Whites are still in the bottom two, but they did pick up a massive win on the weekend, beating Paderborn 5-1 away from home. That result put them level on points with Fortuna Dusseldorf, who lost to Borussia Dortmund in heartbreaking fashion after a stoppage time header from Erling Braut Haaland.
Bremen are only in 17th on goal differential, and their GD is just one goal worse than Dusseldorf's. With only three games to go, the fight to avoid relegation will certainly be an incredible one to watch.
Bremen seem to finally be moving past their earlier injury crisis, as plenty of players have recently returned to the field.
Leonardo Bittencourt and Fin Bartels were doubtful at the weekend, but both will be able to play from the very beginning this time around. Even Niclas Fullkrug is back, and got on the scoresheet against Paderborn on his return from an ACL injury.
The Green-Whites will only be without the trio of Nuri Sahin, Omer Toprak, and Kevin Mohwald, who are all long term absences.
Munich will have two of their star players back for Tuesday’s contest, as Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller will be available for selection after serving suspensions this past weekend.
However, the Bavarians are still dealing with a few injury issues of their own. Midfielders Corentin Tolisso and Thiago are out for a few more weeks, while Philippe Coutinho hasn’t yet recovered from an ankle injury.
Niklas Sule is back in training, but he’s not quite match fit just yet, so he’ll have to settle for a stay on the sidelines for a little bit longer.
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson, Eggestein, Vogt, Klaassen, Bittencourt, Sargent, Rashica
Bayern Munich: Neuer, Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies, Kimmich, Goretzka, Coman, Muller, Gnabry, Lewandowski
Ones to watch
If Bremen want any hope of pulling off the massive upset, then they’ll need Jiri Pavlenka to put on a goalkeeping masterclass.
Considered by some to be one of the best keepers in the Bundesliga, Pavlenka has saved the Green-Whites on a number of occasions this season. Without his heroics, the team would have already been relegated by now.
The Czech international has lightning quick reflexes, which allows him to pull off some truly unbelievable stops. He’s always on the highlight reels, especially since Bremen’s usually dreadful defense gives up a lot of shooting opportunities.
Bremen will be put under pressure all game by Munich, who have been scoring goals for fun this season. However, there’s a chance Pavlenka can become unstoppable on the night, and carry the Green-Whites to a shocking result.
He’s the only hope they have.
Quality before the Bundesliga’s hiatus, Leon Goretzka has been even better ever since the season restarted.
The German made the most of his time off, as he continued to work out from home. He came back to the field stronger than ever, and it’s paid off immensely. Goretzka has scored three goals from midfield in the last seven games, while dishing out an assist in that span as well.
His impact goes beyond the scoresheet, as Goretzka can pretty much do anything. Defensively solid, he has the stamina to track back and the strength to dispossess the opposition.
He’s even better going forward, able to dribble past defenders before picking out teammates with clever passes. Goretzka’s aforementioned goals show he can get the job done in the final third as well, and as a result, he’s become an integral part of the team.
Bremen will need to stop the player if they want to steal a point from the game, but it’s unclear if they’ll even know how to stop Goretzka when he’s in this kind of form.
Munich ran riot the last time these two sides faced off, smashing Bremen 6-1 at the Allianz Arena.
Oddly enough, it would be the away side who took the lead in the 24th minute, as Milot Rashica broke free on the counter attack before rifling a shot that deflected into the back of the net.
The Green-Whites weren’t able to survive the half, and actually went into the break down a goal courtesy of two added time strikes from Munich. First Coutinho managed to poke home a cross from former Bremen man Serge Gnabry, and then Lewandowski snuck past the backline before cooly slotting past Pavelnka.
Coutinho made it three at the hour mark, getting on the end of a long pass from David Alaba and chipping the onrushing goalkeeper.
The floodgates opened up in the 72nd minute, as Munich grabbed three goals in quick succession. Lewandowski got his brace after curling a shot into the far corner, and then substitute Thomas Muller got on the scoresheet after converting from close range. It would end with Coutinho completing his hat-trick in spectacular fashion, smashing a shot from the edge of the area into the top corner.
It was a perfect performance from the Bavarians, who were just too much for Bremen to handle.
Where to watch
Fans in the UK will be able to watch the contest on BT Sport 1, while those in the United States can see the game on Fox Sports 2.