This "English week" in the Bundesliga sees another relegation six-pointer take place as Werder Bremen hosts Mainz at the Wohninvest Weserstadion on Wednesday.
Recent results have brought Bremen right back into the relegation battle. They’ve lost their last five league matches, and they now only sit four points clear of 16th place Hertha Berlin, who have a game in hand. Die Grün-Weißen’s latest matchups have been brutal, to be fair, as four of those losses came against teams in the top five. This run of form still puts them in a dangerous position, but a win on Wednesday should effectively seal their top-flight status for another season.
Mainz, meanwhile, have been superb as of late. Picking up 11 points from their last five Bundesliga outings, they’ve managed to climb out of the bottom three. Unfortunately for Die Nullfünfer, their game this past weekend versus the aforementioned Hertha Berlin was postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak at the capital club. That will at least give Mainz some extra rest going into this contest, which is an especially crucial one considering how tough the rest of their fixtures are, with each game being against a team in the top five.
Bremen will still be without Ömer Toprak, who is dealing with a calf injury, while Nick Woltemade has yet to recover from a knee issue, so he won’t feature either. Christian Groß is also unavailable for selection, as he’s suspended due to yellow card accumulation.
Leonardo Bittencourt picked up a minor injury versus Borussia Dortmund on Sunday, so his status is unclear, while Niclas Füllkrug and Luca Plogmann are also questionable for the contest.
Mainz are very fortunate on the injury front, as Luca Kilian is the only certain absentee, while Paul Nebel is a doubt due to a foot problem.
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Veljković, Moisander, Friedl, Gebre Selassie, Eggestein, Möhwald, Schmid, Augustinsson, Sargent, Rashica
Mainz: Zentner, Juste, Bell, Niakhaté, da Costa, Barreiro, Kohr, Boëtius, Mwene, Burkardt, Onisiwo
Ones to watch
He’s not quite back to his best just yet, but Milot Rashica might be getting there.
The attacker finally opened his goalscoring account for the season against RB Leipzig just over a week ago, converting a penalty kick at the hour mark of that match. He then found the back of the net again this past weekend versus Dortmund, giving his side an early lead with a clinical finish on the counter attack.
Those goals were nice to see, but Bremen still needs more out of Rashica. He’s just not as dynamic on the ball as he used to be. He gets on it at times, and he’ll try to run at defenses, but it isn’t coming together.
Fortunately for him and his team, those two goals should give the Kosovo international a much-needed confidence boost going into the final stretch of the season. Die Grün-Weißen are probably going to have to pick up some points before the end of the campaign to ensure that they don't fall back into the relegation play-off, and to do that, they’ll likely need Rashica to produce some moments of magic.
At the very least, there’s hope that the old Rashica might make an appearance on Wednesday.
The man of the match in Mainz’s massive victory over Köln, there’s a good chance that Jean-Paul Boëtius will be just as important in this contest.
The former Feyenoord phenom has found a home in the Bundesliga with Die Nullfünfer, becoming a key player for them since joining in 2018. He helped them stay up last season, and it looks like he’s about to do the same this campaign.
Boëtius might wear the number 5 kit, but he’s a dangerous attacking midfielder who can also play deeper, out wide, or even up top. He’s got plenty of pace, and he knows how to use it, flying past defenders whether he’s with or without the ball.
Bremen know just how good the Dutchman can be on his day, as he scored against them last season. Mainz will be hoping that he can do that again on Wednesday, and considering the form he’s in at the moment, that doesn’t seem like too improbable.
Last time out
Bremen narrowly edged out a win the last time these two sides faced off, which goes to show how tight this contest could be.
Far from a Bundesliga classic, each team struggled to create chances on the day. Josh Sargent bottled a close-range header midway through the first half, and Edimilson Fernandes forced a save out of Jiří Pavlenka minutes later, but that was it, really.
However, just as it seemed like the game was set to end 0-0, an unexpected hero emerged in the 89th minute. That hero was 19-year-old substitute Eren Dinkçi, who headed home a superb cross from fellow substitute Tahith Chong to grab a goal on his debut and steal all three points for Bremen.
How to watch
The match will be aired live on BT Sport Extra at 7:30 BST in the UK, while those in the United States will be able to see the game on ESPN+ at 2:30 p.m. EST.