It may come just over a month later than initially scheduled, but Arminia Bielefeld will finally host Werder Bremen on Wednesday at the SchücoArena.
The contest was supposed to take place on February 7th, but heavy snowfall in the Bielefeld area meant that the conditions were unsafe for players to compete in.
Since then, Die Blauen have undergone a coaching change. Uwe Neuhaus was fired after a poor run of results, and he was replaced by Frank Kramer, who earned a point on his first game in charge against Union Berlin. It was a good start, but with Bielefeld only one point off the bottom two with a game in hand, they will need more performances like it if they want to avoid a quick return to the 2. Bundesliga.
Bremen, meanwhile, are a lot more comfortable. Currently eight points ahead of the relegation play-off spot, a win here would only put more space between themselves and potential danger. It’s been a season of highs and lows, but at least things are better for Die Grün-Weißen than they were last campaign.
Neither team has been bitten too badly by the injury bug.
Cebio Soukou will miss out for Bielefeld due to a knock, while Cedric Brunner and Sergio Cordova are both doubtful for the contest.
Bremen’s only concerns are with reserve goalkeepers, as Luca Plogmann has yet to recover from a knee injury while Michael Zetterer might not be able to make the bench either, but he’s not been ruled out.
Arminia Bielefeld: Ortega, De Medina, Pieper, Nilsson, Laursen, Maier, Prietl, Okugawa, Vlap, Doan, Klos
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Veljkovic, Toprak, Friedl, Gebre Selassie, Bittencourt, Eggestein, Schmid, Augustinsson, Sargent, Rashica
Ones to watch
If Bielefeld want any chance of staying up this season, they’ll need to start getting more out of January arrival Michel Vlap.
He made a dream start to life at the club, scoring and assisting on his debut as Die Blauen drew 3-3 away to Bayern Munich. However, the Dutchman has really cooled off since then, failing to make much of an impact in any of his last three games.
There’s still time for him to turn things around, though. Vlap has shown in the past just how dangerous can be, as he once scored 16 goals in a season for SC Heerenveen in the Eredivisie.
An attacking midfielder who likes to stay high up the pitch and make runs into the area, the Dutchman could bring a new attacking threat to a Bielefeld side who aren’t the most talented going forward. If he’s in form, then he can be a real nightmare for the opposition to deal with.
Vlap has to step up soon before it’s too late, and that could all start with a masterclass against Bremen.
It’s taken a while, but it seems like Josh Sargent is finally getting into a goalscoring groove.
Finding the back of the net once again this weekend against FC Koln, it was the second straight game that the American managed to get onto the scoresheet. The goal was a well taken one as well, as he drifted towards the back post before heading home with precision.
It’s not like Sargent had been playing poorly throughout the year. Featuring on a consistent basis, he knew his job and he did it well. The striker would often drop deep, supporting the defense while helping his team in possession. However, despite the usually decent performances, fans were starting to worry about his lack of goals.
That’s since changed.
A potential reason why has been the service he's been getting as of late. With the recent rise of Milot Rashica, the attention has turned to him, allowing space in the final third for Sargent to operate in. The 21-year-old is crafty enough to make the most of it, and he’s now being picked out by teammates going forward as well.
He’ll look to make it a third straight game with a goal this time around, and considering the way Sargent is playing, it’d be tough to bet against him doing just that.
Last time out
It was far from a classic the last time these two sides faced off, with Bremen able to grind out a 1-0 win at the Wohninvest Weserstadion.
The hosts thought they had taken an early lead through Leonardo Bittencourt, but his goal was ruled out after the sideline official’s flag went up for offside.
Bremen’s number 10 would not be denied a second time, though. Marco Friedl’s long pass found Jean Manuel-Mbom out wide, and he was able to volley the ball into the penalty area. His cross picked out the aforementioned Bittencourt, and he was able to do the rest, instinctively rifling home from close range.
Bielefeld stayed in the contest, and it seemed like they had grabbed a stoppage time equalizer after Mike van der Hoorn pounced on a loose ball in the box. However, the referee would call the goal off due to a foul committed by the Dutch defender, which was seemingly the right decision since he scraped the leg of Milos Veljkovic when going for the ball.
In the end, Bremen were somehow able to hold on, securing the win and all three points.
How to watch
The match will be broadcasted live on BT Sport Extra in the UK, while those in the United States can see the game on ESPN+.