Werder Bremen has generally avoided relegation in their first season back in the top division, but they squandered the opportunity to mathematically secure this game after blowing a lead to lose 2-1 to Schalke last weekend. Bremen has perhaps already accomplished enough given that they are seven points clear of the drop zone heading into the last four rounds, but a challenging stretch that includes games against three of the top five teams might make Bremen regret opportunities lost.
The start of that stretch is here, and a trip back to the Weserstadion is unlikely to help them stay up because not only do they play Bayern Munich, the league’s top team, but Werder is also the poorest home team in the division (W5, D1, L9), Even so, the River Islanders have had a league high 21 (70%) of their games at any venue have both teams scoring, and 21 of their Bundesliga games have also featured at least three goals, another league best. This may entice neutral spectators to watch.
Last weekend saw yet another twist in the most hotly contested Bundesliga title battle as Dortmund lost control of their Meisterschale destiny by drawing with their neighborhood rivals Bochum. Even though Bayern’s 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin broke the Rekordmeister’s four game losing streak (W1, D2, L2), there may still be some surprises in store for the German champions.
The next task for Thomas Tuchel’s team is to halt a miserable record of four losses from Bayern’s past six competitive away games (W2, L4). If history is any guide, that shouldn’t be too challenging given Bayern’s current 12 games winning streak in Bundesliga head to head matches here in Bremen, though conceding six goals during their two most recent trips this season may serve to dampen expectations.
For the first time since 2008/09, Werder now has two players with 12+ top flight goals in one season, including Niclas Füllkrug (G16), thanks to Marvin Ducksch’s 12th Bundesliga goals of the season last weekend. With his latest goal against Hertha, Serge Gnabry of Bayern became the lone player to score at least ten Bundesliga goals in each of the previous seven seasons.
Felix Agu and Dikeni Salifou of Werder continue to be out with injuries, and Niclas Fullkrug, the Bundesliga’s leading scorer with 16 goals in 26 games this season, is questionable with a calf injury, along with Eren Dinkci (foot).
Ducksch has scored more goals (nine) than any other Bundesliga player during the second half of the season. If Fullkrug is not deemed fit to start, Ducksch is anticipated to be joined in attack by Wolfsburg loanee Maximilian Philipp.
In Werder’s 6-1 loss to Bayern in November, Anthony Jung scored. The 31 years old is expected to keep his spot at left wing back, with Mitchell Weiser, a former wide receiver for Bayern, playing on the other flank.
While Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (knee), Alphonso Davies (thigh), Dayot Upamecano (muscle), Lucas Hernandez (knee), and Manuel Neuer (broken leg) are all ruled out due to injury, Leon Goretzka is suspended for Bayern due to a buildup of yellow cards.
Goretzka’s absence means that Ryan Gravenberch, who has only made two Bundesliga starts this year, will likely start in center midfield. The back four of Noussair Mazraoui, Benjamin Pavard, Matthijs de Ligt, and Joao Cancelo will likely continue to play.
Gnabry, who scored a hat-trick against Werder earlier this season, may continue to play a supporting role to central attacker Sadio Mane, but Thomas Muller and Leroy Sane will be vying for a starting spot after starting on the bench the last time.
Werder Bremen possible starting lineup
Pavlenka, Veljkovic, Stark, Friedl, Weiser, Bittencourt, Gross, Stage, Jung, Ducksch and Philipp.
Bayern Munich possible starting lineup
Sommer, Mazraoui, Pavard, De Ligt, Cancelo, Kimmich, Gravenberch, Coman, Gnabry, Musiala and Mane.
We predict: Werder Bremen 1-3 Bayern Munich
While Bayern is looking to build on last weekend’s success and conclude the season well in an effort to fight off challenge from Dortmund for the title, Werder will be eager to make one final push to guarantee their Bundesliga position.
We anticipate Tuchel’s team to outscore their opponents and increase their advantage at the top given their impressive history against the home team.