It’s 12th versus 3rd in the Bundesliga this weekend as Werder Bremen host Wolfsburg at the Wohninvest Weserstadion on Saturday afternoon.
Bremen were dealt a reality check in their last game, losing 3-1 at home to Bayern Munich. It wasn’t the worst performance from Die Grün-Weißen, but they were thoroughly outplayed by the opposition, especially after the opening goal.
The scoreline could have looked a lot worse if not for some luck and the heroics of Jiří Pavlenka, though, so Bremen know they’ll need to be better if they want a result this time around. However, they still aren’t desperate, as Die Grün-Weißen currently sit comfortably in mid-table with nine points separating them and 16th place.
Wolfsburg's push for Champions League qualification got back on the right track last weekend as they demolished Schalke 5-0, which was a needed win after the team had lost two straight.
The victory put Die Wölfe four points in front of 4th place Eintracht Frankfurt and six points in front of 5th place Borussia Dortmund with nine games to go, so there’s currently a good chance that top-level European football will be returning to the Volkswagen Arena for the first time since 2016.
As a result, Wolfsburg will certainly need the points more, but that doesn’t mean Bremen won’t try to get a win themselves.
Bremen will be without Patrick Erras for this contest, while reserve goalkeepers Luca Plogmann and Michael Zetterer have also been ruled out. The good news is that centerback Marco Friedl will be able to return to the team after he served his suspension versus Bayern Munich.
On the Wolfsburg side of things, Paulo Otávio was sent off for a horror challenge a few weeks ago against Hoffenheim, so he’s still unavailable for selection due to suspension. On the injury front, Marin Pongračić is dealing with a calf problem while Renato Steffen has yet to recover from an ankle issue, so neither will feature this weekend.
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Veljković, Toprak, Friedl, Gebre Selassie, Schmid, Eggestein, Möhwald, Agu, Sargent, Rashica
Wolfsburg: Casteels, Mbabu, Lacroix, Brooks, Baku, Guilavogui, Arnold, Brekalo, Mehmedi, Gerhardt, Weghorst
Ones to watch
It may have taken longer than some would have wanted, but Josh Sargent has finally gotten into a goalscoring groove this past month.
The forward scored in three straight games for Bremen, and those goals secured seven points. Sargent showcased his intelligence during this run, as he was able to find spaces in the final third before capitalizing with some quality finishes.
He was kept at bay by Munich last weekend, but the American still didn’t have a bad game. He fought throughout, and he could have won a penalty at one stage, but it just wasn't meant to be versus the reigning European champions.
Sargent will be put to the test against Wolfsburg, who have the joint-best defense in the entire league. If the forward can grab another goal here, though, then Bremen might just have the chance to pull off another surprising result.
Wolfsburg’s flying Dutchman this season, Wout Weghorst will look to continue his excellent form this weekend.
A consistent goalscorer ever since coming to the club, Weghorst has had another superb campaign. With 21 goals in all competitions, 16 of which coming in Bundesliga play, the forward has been a key reason for his team’s success this year.
He’s even become more than just a scorer in recent times, as Weghorst has five assists in his last six games. This new layer has made him even more dynamic, which is good news for Die Wölfe and bad news for the rest of the league.
Bremen knows just how dangerous he can be, as Weghorst’s two goals in the reverse fixture (which we’ll get to later) ultimately proved to be the difference on the day. Whether or not he gets onto the scoresheet once again remains to be seen, but it’s tough to bet against the Dutchman considering just how good he’s been this season.
Last time out
It was a barnstormer of a contest the last time these two sides faced off as Wolfsburg won a hectic game 5-3 at the Volkswagen Arena.
Bremen opened the scoring after just 13 minutes. Yuya Osako did very well to set up the goal, winning the ball high up the pitch before drilling a low cross into the box that Leonardo Bittencourt got on the end to convert from only a few yards out.
Wolfsburg responded well, though, and scored two goals in three minutes to take the lead. Both came courtesy of defenders, as Bote Baku rifled a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area before John Brooks then headed home a cross from Josip Brekalo.
There would be two more goals in quick succession just over 10 minutes later. A looping header from Kevin Möhwald brought Bremen level, but Wout Weghorst restored Wolfsburg’s advantage almost right from kick-off with a close-range strike.
Things would not let up after the break as Bremen equalized two minutes into the start of the second half. An attempted cross from Milot Rashica deflected off of the aforementioned Brooks and into the back of his own net, meaning the defender had scored at both ends of the field.
Wolfsburg couldn’t be stopped, though, and they finally took control of proceedings late on. A powerful header from Weghorst gave them the lead for good, and Bartosz Białek hit on the counter to secure all three points for the hosts.
How to watch
The match won’t be broadcasted in the UK, but fans in the United States can see the game on ESPN+.