The German domestic season comes to a close on Monday afternoon, as FC Heidenheim hosts Werder Bremen in the 2nd leg of the Bundesliga relegation playoff.
It all comes down to this for the two sides after an admittedly underwhelming 1st leg ended 0-0 last Thursday. Both teams were happy with the result for different reasons, as Heidenheim weren’t beaten on the road, while Bremen didn’t concede a potentially crucial away goal.
However, they’ll each have to throw caution to the wind this time around at the Voith-Arena, as one moment of magic or madness could ultimately decide who goes up, and who goes down.
Heidenheim have no fresh injury concerns going into the game. Defender Arne Feick didn’t feature on Thursday, but he might be able to return to the team if need be for the upcoming contest.
Bremen will be without their captain for Monday’s contest, as Niklas Moisander was sent off in the 1st leg, and is suspended for the 2nd leg as a result. Luckily for the Green-Whites, they will have Kevin Vogt available for selection again, as he has served his suspension that ruled him out last time around.
FC Heidenheim: Muller, Busch, Mainka, Beermann, Theuerkauf, Griesbeck, Dorsch, Thomalla, Schnatterer, Multhaup, Kleindienst
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Selassie, Veljkovic, Vogt, Friedl, Eggestein, Gross, Klaassen, Bittencourt, Fullkrug, Rashica
Ones to watch
Heidenheim knows things won’t be as easy defensively in the 2nd leg.
Bremen, in search of a potentially massive away goal, will be much more aggressive going forward. That means the Heidenheim backline needs to be prepared for what’s to come, and that starts with goalkeeper Kevin Muller.
Muller had very little to do last time out, only making one save and having to deal with few crosses into the area. However, he almost bottled everything at the very end, spilling the ball in his own penalty area. If he wasn’t bailed out by his backline, Heidenheim would be in a much worse situation going into this contest.
He’ll likely be put under more pressure on Monday, especially since he knows conceding a single road goal could cost his side a place in the Bundesliga. If Muller can stand on his head and keep a clean sheet, though, he could go down as a hero in the Heidenheim history books.
Speaking of Bremen’s potential attacking ability, if the Green-Whites want any chance of maintaining their first division status, then they’ll have to find the back of the net on the afternoon.
Their defense has been too leaky all season, so there’s plenty of reason to believe they’ll find a way to concede a sloppy goal.
With that in mind, most of the responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of Bremen striker Niclas Fullkrug. Returning from an ACL injury at the end of the campaign, he managed to score twice, including a vital goal against FC Koln to help put his team into this playoff.
He’s not just a goalscorer, to his credit, as Fullkrug can also hold the ball up and pick out teammates going forward. His focus will still be on scoring, though, and his size makes him a constant aerial threat.
Everyone knows a road goal for Bremen would change absolutely everything, and if Fullkrug can be the one who grabs that goal, then it would cap off his fairytale return from injury in spectacular fashion.
As mentioned prior, the 1st leg at the Wohninvest Weserstadion on Thursday was quite the bore. Neither team wanted to make the first mistake, so both played it very safe early on. As a result, only one shot on target was registered on the afternoon.
The game burst to life in the final few moments, as each side had a chance to grab a crucial goal.
It began when Heidenheim goalkeeper Kevin Muller spilled the ball in the penalty area, leaving it right at the feet of Bremen attacker Milot Rashica. He quickly picked out Leonardo Bittencourt, who crossed it in towards Josh Sargent. The American’s effort was rolling into the back of an empty net, but a Heidenheim defender was able to track back and heroically clear the ball off the line.
The away side came within inches of scoring themselves soon later. An expert corner picked out defender Timo Beermann, who found himself unmarked in the box. He got plenty of power behind his header attempt, but the ball flew just wide of the post, much to the relief of the Bremen backline.
Where to watch
Those in the UK can watch the 2nd leg on BT Sport 1, while those in the United States can see the drama unfold on Fox Sports 2.