Werder Bremen prepare for Bundesliga life again with defensive reinforcements
Photo by Lukas Schulze / Getty Images

The Northern powerhouse bounced straight back to the Bundesliga in May thanks to a final day 2-0 victory over Jahn Regensburg.

The four-time Bundesliga champions were only relegated in the previous campaign but after a poor start they found their feet in the 2. Bundesliga to come runners-up to Schalke.

Bremen are now tasked with trying to stay in the Bundesliga after a couple of years of turmoil at the club.

Fans of the club will have been impressed with Bremen’s early business this summer though as they have secured the signings of defenders Amos Pieper and Niklas Stark.

 

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Amos Pieper

Pieper arrives from newly relegated side Arminia Bielefeld on a free transfer after his contract expired this summer.

The 24-year-old has 57 Bundesliga appearances under his belt with Bielefeld in the last two seasons showcasing why he was capped by Germany at Under-21 level on ten occasions.

The centre-back started his career at FC Nordkirchen but was quickly snapped up by Borussia Dortmund’s youth team in 2010 where he spent his whole youth career.

However, after never making a senior appearance for Dortmund he left for Arminia Bielefeld in search of regular game time.

This move propelled his career as he got to showcase his talent on a weekly basis and helped Bielefeld gain promotion in the 2019-20 season.

For someone of his age the German defender is a great reader of the game and although he isn’t blessed with blistering pace he often gets in front of his man to intercept the ball and stop attacks.

Although he is a good one vs one defender the 6’4” defender struggles when he is dragged into the wider channel which is why it is expected that he will play at the centre of Bremen’s back three.

Werder Bremen manager Ole Werner showed his excitement with the signing of the former Germany Under-21 international.

He said: “Amos is physically strong, has the ability to play out from the back and is strong in the air. He has already proven that he can mix it with the big boys in the Bundesliga.”

Pieper spoke well of Bremen’s Head of Professional Football, Clemens Fritz as he explained why he chose Bremen.

He said: “The plans the club have set for me, and the opportunities here appealed to me right away and left me with a good feeling. That’s why I choose Werder. The photos of the promotion celebrations and what was happening in Bremen also helped to support my decision.”

 

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Niklas Stark

Stark arrived shortly after Pieper from Hertha Berlin once again on a free transfer.

The 27-year-old had just helped Hertha stay in the Bundesliga thanks to a 2-1 aggregate win over Hamburger SV in the relegation playoff. 

Stark will bring a raft of experience to this Bremen side as he comes with nearly 200 Bundesliga appearances under his belt and two caps with the German national side.

The 6’3” centre back has struggled in recent years after showing great promise at Nurnberg which led to Hertha Berlin purchasing him in 2015.

Stark will be looking for a fresh start at Bremen after leaving the chaos that is Hertha Berlin currently and will be focusing on trying to reach the form that got him into the national side.

Fritz was once again a happy man with this transfer.

He said: “We have kept an eye on Niklas for a long time and now we have had the chance to get him to Bremen. With almost 200 Bundesliga games under his belt, he will bring lots of experience with him.” 

Stark stated that he wants to play a “role in permanently establishing Werder back in the Bundesliga.”

Where will they fit?

Young manager Ole Werner guided the Northern giant back to the Bundesliga using the 3-5-2 formation and many expect him to continue with this system as they return to the top division.

Marco Friedl will be a guaranteed starter in the left of three next season as Bremen try and tie down the 24-year-old Austrian international to a long term contract. 

This leaves the two other centre back positions which were filled by veteran Ömer Toprak and Miloš Veljković the majority of last season.

Many expect Toprak to be eased out of the team as he continues to age with Pieper likely to take the central role of the back three next season due to his height and lack of recovery speed to play the right centre back role.

This would leave Stark to battle Veljković for the right centre back role of the three as well as possibly challenging Pieper for the central role.

Werner may also be tempted to play Stark in the six role as he has played this role in the past for Hertha Berlin.

This is of course a move Werner has already done with Christian Groß who he moved from centre back to the six role last season due to the lack of defensive midfield options at the Wohninvest Weserstadion.

With Groß being 33 years-old, Werner may be tempted to test Stark out in his role with a look to future and also to add more pace to that area. 

What next?

Bremen are set to return for pre-season on the 19th June before heading to Austria on the 30th June for a training camp.

Werner however will be keen to add more reinforcements to his squad before the Bundesliga season kicks off on 5th August.

Following the signings of Pieper and Stark it is expected now that Bremen will now look to strengthen in midfield as they struggled last season finding a defensive midfielder to deputise for Gros or even take over from the 33-year-old.

There are also question marks over where the creativity will come in the upcoming campaign as neither Romano Schmid or Niklas Schmidt have very much experience in the top division and Leonardo Bittencourt has struggled to fulfil the potential he shown in the early part of his career at Köln.

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