Both sides have been inconsistent so far this season. The Green-Whites have gone unbeaten since being blown out by Hertha Berlin on Matchday 1, while Die Kraichgauer have lost twice since beating reigning champions Bayern Munich.
As a result, it’s unclear which version of each team will take the field, which should lead to an exciting matchup.
Bremen had been getting healthy these last few weeks, but they’ve suffered a number of setbacks since. Ludwig Augustinsson will miss out due to a pulled hamstring, while Davie Selke and Patrick Erras are both still dealing with nagging injuries. Meanwhile, a recent COVID scare means Felix Agu and Tahith Chong are each unavailable for selection.
It’s been tough for them, but their situation isn’t as bad as Hoffenheim’s, who are in the midst of an injury crisis.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a toll on them as well, with Andrej Kramaric, Kasim Adams, and Pavel Kaderabek all out due to a recent outbreak. Meanwhile, the defensive trio of Benjamin Hubner, Ermin Bicakcic, and Konstantinos Stafylidis will also miss out due to injury. Lastly, Florian Grillitsch is a doubt after he went back home due to the birth of his child.
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Gebre Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Friedl, Mbom, Eggestein, Gross, Bittencourt, Fullkrug, Sargent
Hoffenheim: Baumann, Posch, Vogt, Akpoguma, Rudy, Samassekou, Geiger, Skov, Baumgartner, Bebou, Dabbur
Ones to watch
Featuring for the first time this season off the bench against Freiburg, Rashica was a shell of himself. He barely got involved in the attack, and just couldn’t get going during the brief cameo appearance.
However, with that game time and an extra week of rest now under his belt, the winger could be back to his best this weekend. Rashica, on his day, is one of the most dangerous players in the entire Bundesliga. Incredibly rapid, he uses his speed to fly past defenders before going for goal. He can finish too, and has scored a few exceptional goals throughout his career.
The Green-Whites need him to perform if they want any chance of beating a team as talented as Hoffenheim. The pressure is on, and it’s time for Rashica to remind everyone just how good he is.
With talisman Andrej Kramaric still out of action, the goalscoring responsibility for Hoffenheim will fall on the shoulders of Munas Dabbur.
After a failed move to Sevilla, Dabbur joined Die Kraichgauer this past January. He took some time to adapt to life in the Bundesliga, but he ended last season on the right foot, and has done well to start this campaign as well. He scored in the win against Bayern Munich, and also found the back of the net earlier in the week when Hoffenheim beat Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League.
He can do more than just score, as Dabbur tends to drop deeper at times to open up space for teammates. With that in mind, Bremen will have to keep an eye on him at all times, or else the forward will run riot on Sunday.
It wasn’t a close contest between the two sides the last time they faced off, as Hoffenheim ran out 3-0 winners at the Wohninvest Weserstadion.
Remarkably enough, the score was stuck at 0-0 until the hour mark. The deadlock would be broken in strange fashion, as Davy Klaassen tried to clear a loose ball in the area, but ended up accidentally chipping his own goalkeeper, scoring an own goal as a result.
Die Kraichgauer would make the most of that fortunate bounce, as they doubled their advantage 15 minutes later. Christoph Baumgartner somehow snuck past the Bremen backline before hitting a cheeky backheel towards goal. It seemed like a defender was able to clear the ball away in time, but the referee was forced to give the goal after goal line technology told him the ball went over the line.
Sargis Adamyan made it three with minutes to go after a relatively simple finish, putting an exclamation mark on a clinical performance from Hoffenheim.
Where to watch
In the UK, the contest will be aired on BT Sport 1, while those in the United States will be able to watch the game on ESPN+.