This weekend serves up a real midtable clash in the Bundesliga as 13th place Werder Bremen hosts 11th place Augsburg at the Wohninvest Weserstadion on Saturday afternoon.
After a dreadful run of form, Bremen seem to have bounced back a bit. Their most recent result was a relatively impressive one as they drew on the road against Bayer Leverkusen. The Green-Whites were much better at the back, and they would’ve gotten a clean sheet on the afternoon if not for a deflection that led to the only goal they gave up. It was still a promising performance, though, which will boost the morale of supporters who may have started to lose hope in the side.
It’s a similar story for Augsburg, who currently sit quite comfortably in the league, eight points ahead of the bottom three. They were beaten this past weekend, though, as Die Fuggerstädter lost 4-1 at home to Stuttgart. It was a showing that highlighted just how inconsistent the team is at the moment, so who knows what to expect from them this time around.
Bremen know they’ll be without two defensive options in midfield as both Patrick Erras and Christian Groß are unavailable for selection. There’s also a chance left back Ludwig Augustinnson will miss out since he’s currently a game time decision.
There is good news for the Green-Whites, as manager Florian Kohfeldt confirmed that star man Milot Rashica will be back in the squad, while strikers Niclas Fullkrug and Davie Selke should feature in a larger capacity as well.
Augsburg, meanwhile, are still dealing with injuries all over the pitch. Defender Raphael Framberger is out due to a hamstring issue, midfielder Jan Moravek is out with a thigh problem, and forward Fredrik Jensen has yet to recover from an ankle injury.
Die Fuggerstädter will also be without Marco Richter due to suspension since he was sent off versus Stuttgart, while Felix Gotze is listed as doubtful.
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Veljkovic, Toprak, Friedl, Selassie, Mbom, Eggestein, Mohwald, Agu, Sargent, Fullkrug
Augsburg: Gikiewicz, Gummy, Oxford, Uduokhai, Iago, Caligiuri, Gruezo, Strobl, Vargas, Niederlechner, Gregoritsch
Ones to watch
There’s a chance Bremen’s top scorer will finally return to the starting lineup this weekend, and that is certainly good news for the team.
Niclas Fullkrug started the season quite well, scoring a hat-trick versus Schalke while also getting a goal against Freiburg. However, he then picked up a calf injury that ruled him out for about two months, and the Green-Whites suffered as a result. Without their target man up top, the side looked lost going forward, and they struggled to score on a consistent basis.
Fullkrug eventually recovered and came back into the squad, but he was forced to settle for limited cameos off the bench. Management didn’t want to risk him too much, as they feared he would reaggravate his injury and miss even more games for the club.
He didn’t do much during those appearances, but this weekend should see him back in the starting lineup. An old school striker, Fullkrug just seems to know how to be at the right place at the right time. He finds space in the area before pouncing on it, and his clinical nature in front of goal means he doesn’t miss many chances.
Bremen need a spark in the attack, and they’ll hope Fullkrug can provide that this weekend.
Augsburg’s star man, Daniel Caligiuri might be one of the most underrated players in the Bundesliga.
A veteran of the league, he played for the likes of Freiburg, Wolfsburg, and Schalke before eventually coming to the WWK Arena. There’s a reason why Caligiuri is still around at the age of 32, as he’s had yet another solid season for Die Fuggerstädter.
The Italian can pretty much do it all. Playing a number of positions throughout his career, he has been utilized out wide and in the center, either as an attacking threat or a defensive linchpin.
Caligiuri has mostly been used as a wide midfielder this campaign to devastating effect. He pops up with a goal or an assist from time to time, but his impact goes beyond the scoresheet. He’s a leader and an organizer out on the field, using his experience to get the most out of his teammates.
His signing has really helped Augsburg, and the club will hope he can make an impact once again versus Bremen.
Last time out
It’s been nearly a year since these two sides last faced off, with that game happening so long ago that there were actually supporters in the stands.
Taking place at the WWK Arena, Bremen took the lead on the day in bizarre circumstances. A ball over the top from Nuri Sahin picked out the run of Davie Selke who settled it and took a shot. His effort was saved, but the ball would still end up in the back of the net as Jeffrey Gouweleeuw’s clearance ricocheted off of teammate Tin Jedvaj before bouncing across the line.
The luck would even out midway through the second half as Augsburg’s equalizer came courtesy of another deflection. Florian Niederlechner got the ball out wide before cutting in and unleashing a shot towards goal. The attempt hit Omer Toprak and flew upwards, eventually going over the head of Jiri Pavlenka and underneath the crossbar to tie things up.
The home side would grab a deserved winner late on. The move started when centerback Gouweleeuw won the ball in midfield and somehow got it to substitute Alfreð Finnbogason. His lovely first time backheel pass picked out Ruben Vargas, and he made no mistake with the finish, calmly slotting home from close range.
It was a huge result for Augsburg as it helped them stay up in the league, while Bremen were ultimately able to do the same after beating FC Heidenheim in the relegation playoff.
How to watch
The match won’t be broadcasted in the UK, but those in the United States will be able to watch the game on ESPN+.