Both teams played very cautiously, not wanting to make the first mistake. As a result, neither pushed forward, so the game ended with only one shot on target.
The focus now shifts to the 2nd leg on Monday, as everything will be left to play for at the Voith-Arena.
Story of the match
The game quickly developed a distinct pattern, as Bremen kept the ball in the midfield while Heidenheim sat deep and limited space in behind. The Green-Whites did have some promising build up play early on, but couldn’t create any real chances.
The away side were the first to do anything going forward, as they broke free on the counter. Tim Kleindienst got the ball near the edge of the area and cut inside before unleashing a strong shot that forced a good save out of Jiri Pavlenka, even if the effort was going wide.
Bremen kept more of the ball, but started to grow frustrated with themselves. They started lumping passes in behind and forcing things when they didn’t need to.
It was Heidenheim who created the next chance as well. Maurice Multhaup made the most of an error at the back and found himself through on goal. However, he wasted the opportunity, and slammed his shot wide.
All in all, it was a tense first half, as neither team took any risks in attack. As a result, there wasn’t a single shot on target in the opening 45 minutes.
The Green-Whites would come out strong to start the second half. A cross wasn’t cleared properly by the Heidenheim defense, and the ball fell to the feet of Yuya Osako on the edge of the area. His shot was blocked, and another shot from Milot Rashica was blocked by an offside Niclas Fullkrug right after.
The rain started to pour at the hour mark, making an already ugly game even harder to watch.
Things somehow got worse with about 10 minutes to go, as Bremen captain Niklas Moisander was sent off after picking up a second yellow card. It was an easy call to make, as the defender went sliding in, taking out the opposing player without getting close to the ball. The red also means he’ll miss the 2nd leg through suspension.
The game finally came to life at the very end. Goalkeeper Kevin Muller couldn’t keep hold of the ball, spilling it into the feet of Rashica. He backheeled it to Leonardo Bittencourt, who’s low cross picked out Josh Sargent. His shot attempt was rolling towards goal, but a Heidenheim defender was able to get back and clear it off the line.
Heidenheim almost snatched a goal in stoppage time. A corner was whipped in right towards defender Timo Beermann, whose header only flew a few inches wide of the post.
Ultimately, the game ended 0-0, which means everything will be to play for in the 2nd leg on Monday.
Not a bad result for either
Neither team will be too happy with their performance on the afternoon, but the scoreline doesn’t really hurt either side.
Bremen managed to keep a crucial clean sheet, not giving away a road goal in the process. That is often the tiebreaker in matchups like this, so the Green-Whites know that scoring a goal in the 2nd leg means the opposition will need two.
Meanwhile, Heidenheim didn’t lose, and will have their fate in their own hands going into the 2nd leg at home. They were quality at the Voith-Arena this past season, and will hope they can keep that good form going to book their spot in the Bundesliga.
The only losers were the fans watching the contest, who had to sit through an hour and a half of dreadful football
Man of the match - Marc Schnatterer
The only player that really did anything of importance during the contest, Marc Schnatterer was dangerous everytime he got onto the ball.
Coming off the bench to provide a much needed spark for Heidenheim, the experienced winger was able to create a few chances out wide. Schnatterer’s crossing ability was on show, as he came inches away from an assist on two occasions.
It was an uber impressive cameo, which likely means that Schnatterer will start from the opening whistle in the 2nd leg.