It was a disappointing start to the 2020/21 season for Werder Bremen, as the Green-Whites were easily beaten by Hertha Berlin 4-1 at the Wohninvest Weserstadion on Saturday afternoon.
Goals from Peter Pekarik and Dodi Lukebakio at the end of the first half put Hertha in the driver's seat, and Matheus Cunha added another shortly after the break to effectively seal all three points. Werder pulled one back through Davie Selke, but a late striker from the debuting Jhon Cordoba was the icing on the cake for the away side who looked very good going forward.
Story of the match
It was an admittedly sloppy first 15 minutes, as neither team really got off to a strong start. It certainly looked like the first game of the season early on.
Berlin did create a chance out of nowhere soon after. Krzystof Piatek was picked out in the area, and his header attempt was a good one, but the forward could only watch as the ball slammed off the crossbar and out of play.
The away side would open the scoring before the end of the half. A low cross from Maximilian Mittelstaedt flew all the way towards the backpost to right back Peter Pekarik, who got on the end of the pass to poke home from close range.
Hertha thought they had won a penalty in stoppage time when Pekarik was brought down by Marco Friedl on the sideline. However, after a VAR review, the referee realized the foul happened outside of the area, so a free-kick was given instead.
They would still make it two before the break, though. A poor turnover from Maximilian Eggestein in the midfield set Berlin up for a counter, as Vladimir Darida picked up the loose ball before playing Dodi Lukebakio in behind. The Belgian made no mistake with the finish, smashing a shot past a helpless Jiri Pavlenka.
It was a nightmare end to the first half for Bremen, who had the exact same issues as last season. They looked lost going forward, and were woeful defensively.
The game would be put to bed at the hour mark as Berlin hit on the break. Darida was the orchestrator once again, this time finding Matheus Cunha on the left wing, who took a first time shot that squeezed under Pavlenka. The goalkeeper should have done better, to be fair, especially considering his quality.
Bremen did pull one back roughly 10 minutes later against the run of play. Ludwig Augustinsson got free on the left wing, finding space out wide before whipping in a superb cross towards the far post. That’s where Davie Selke was waiting, and he rose highest to head home from a few yards out.
They really should have grabbed another with five minutes to go, as substitute Niclas Fullkrug volleyed towards goal from inside the area. However, he hit his effort straight at Alexander Schwolow, who made the save with relative ease.
Berlin would make them pay, as substitute Jhon Cordoba made it 4-1 before full time to put an exclamation point on the contest.
The result was ultimately a fair one, as Hertha looked really good, while Bremen never really got going on the day.
The players out on the field didn’t help, but manager Florian Kohfeldt was the reason why Bremen lost this game.
He made a mess of the starting lineup, putting Werder in a hole before the contest had even kicked off.
Josh Sargent, who had impressed up top during preseason, suddenly found himself playing as a left winger, with Yuya Osako used centrally instead. Meanwhile, summer signing Patrick Erras was left on the bench, as Kohfeldt decided to not select a real defensive midfielder. That call, unsurprisingly, would cost them.
The player selection was strange, and so was the formation. It was never really clear what Bremen were trying to play, as it sometimes looked like a 4-4-2, but it seemed like they were trying to utilize a 4-2-2-2 instead. Those on the field looked lost as a result, with no one really knowing what their role in the team was. That is not what fans want to see following a full preseason campaign.
Kohfeldt barely kept his job after avoiding relegation last season, but if showings like this continue, then it’ll only be a matter of time before he is let go.
Berlin's attacking talent
Hertha made the most of their opponents' mistakes, and showed real promise going forward.
A big reason for that was due to all the options they have in attack, as everyone pitched in at one stage or another. Lukebakio and Cunha got on the scoresheet, taking their chances very well. Piatek wasn’t as involved, but hit the bar with a powerful header, while substitute Cordoba helped set up the third goal with some brilliant hold up play before scoring the fourth himself.
Berlin fans will be feeling optimistic following this result, as their team looked quite threatening up top. Scoring goals builds confidence as well, so the forwards will be in good form going into next week’s game.
Keeping this up will be the real challenge, but for now, the future looks bright in the capital.
Man of the match - Vladimir Darida
The strikers will grab the headlines, but Vladimir Darida was the one who quietly ran things in the midfield.
Constantly on the ball, Darida used his passing and dribbling ability to create loads of chances on the attack. He knew where to be at all times, and Bremen never really figured out how to stop him on the day.
The Czech Republic international has always been underrated, and showings like this prove why. If Hertha wants to do well this season, then they’ll need Darida to be at his best on a weekly basis. Thankfully for them, he seems up for the challenge.