RB Leipzig bounced back well following last weekend’s defeat to Bayern Munich as Die Roten Bullen easily defeated Werder Bremen 4-1 at the Wohninvest Weserstadion.
Dani Olmo gave the away side the lead after a strong start to the contest, and a brace from Alexander Sørloth before the break effectively sealed the result. Bremen pulled one back after a penalty from Milot Rashica, but a strike from Marcel Sabitzer destroyed any hopes of a remarkable comeback.
All in all, it was just too easy for Leipzig as they continued to put pressure on Munich in the race for the title, while Die Grün-Weißen sank even closer to the relegation zone with the result.
Story of the match
Leipzig dominated possession early on, and it was no surprise to see them create the opening chance of the contest. A lovely switch-ball from Christopher Nkunku picked out Justin Kluivert on the wing, but his shot hit the wrong side of the side-netting.
They eventually made the most of their advantage, opening the scoring in the 23rd minute. A lovely give-and-go between Dani Olmo and Kevin Kampl played the former through on goal, and he made no mistake with the finish, converting from close range.
Bremen should have equalized minutes later, though. A corner whipped into the area by Marco Friedl made its way towards Davie Selke, but his headed effort went wide from only a few yards out.
They would rue that missed chance as Die Roten Bullen grabbed a second around the half-hour mark. Nkunku got free out wide before chipping a cross towards Alexander Sørloth, who was left open in the box. He made the most of his space, heading home past a relatively helpless Jiří Pavlenka.
It was nearly three soon after. Marcel Halstenberg snuck in behind the opposition defence before smashing a volley into the back of the net, but the goal was correctly called off for offside after the sideline official’s flag went up.
Leipzig did get another goal before the break, as Willi Orbán broke free down the wing before drilling a low cross to Sørloth. In the right place at the right time once again, the forward was easily able to finish off the move with a tap-in from close range.
The away side sat back to start the second half, which allowed Bremen to grab a goal of their own at the hour mark. A penalty was called after the ball hit the arm of Kampl in the area, and Milot Rashica stepped up to convert the resulting spot-kick and score his first of the season.
The dreams of a comeback would not last long, though, as Die Roten Bullen quickly restored their three-goal advantage. A pass from Benjamin Henrichs picked out the late run of captain Marcel Sabitzer, and his first-time effort snuck past Pavlenka and into the back of the net.
That goal took any sort of drama that was remaining right out of the contest, and Leipzig were easily able to hold on to the result and the three points.
Kohfeldt gets it wrong
Leipzig deserve plenty of credit for going out there and getting the job done, but their task was made a lot easier due to the decisions of Bremen manager Florian Kohfeldt.
He got things right in the DFB-Pokal victory versus Jahn Regensburg during the week, as a change in formation and personnel was a big reason why Die Grün-Weißen were victorious.
However, on this day, Kohfeldt’s choices would be what truly cost them.
He returned to the back three/five formation used for most of the campaign, which made sense considering Leipzig’s firepower in attack. However, the manager only opted for two central midfielders, playing three up top instead.
Bremen were overrun in the middle as a result, especially without Maximilian Eggestein, who was suspended for the contest. Christian Groß and Jean-Manuel Mbom just couldn’t keep up, and they didn’t get much help from the attack, either.
The aforementioned front three was made up of Davie Selke, Josh Sargent, and Eren Dinkçi. There’s nothing wrong with those players in particular, as each can make an impact when leading the line, but having them play together made no sense since they all are central strikers. There was no balance and no chemistry, and Die Grün-Weißen looked lost going forward because of it.
Kohfeldt wanting to give a chance to certain players is understandable, but he set up those same players to fail due his decision-making. Bremen have now lost three straight, and even though it’s not time to press the panic button just yet, the team need to be concerned with the fact that they are creeping closer and closer to the bottom three as the weeks go on.
If they want to avoid any late-season drama, then the manager will need to return to what worked in the past instead of tinkering like he did today.
Man of the match - Alexander Sørloth
It’s been a tough season for Alexander Sørloth, but this game showed exactly what he can do when given service.
Coming to Leipzig for around 16 million pounds over the summer, there were hopes that he could be the man to replace the departing Timo Werner. That’s not what has happened, though, as Sørloth has sat on the bench for most of the campaign. He didn’t do well when given the chance early on, which led to Die Roten Bullen often utilizing a false nine instead.
However, Sørloth was given the opportunity versus Bremen, and he made the most of it. The forward was able to find space in the area before making the opposition pay, with his two simple yet clinical finishes effectively sealing the result for his side before the half-time break. He didn’t do much else on the day, to be fair, but he didn’t need to.
With a DFB-Pokal semi-final between the two teams coming at the end of the month, this performance should secure Sørloth a starting spot in that fixture. If he can keep up this form, then there’s reason to believe that the Norwegian international could save his poor campaign by firing Leipzig into the final and to a potential trophy.