Werder Bremen 2 – 0 Hamburger SV – What now HSV? Another defeat for the red shorts:

Frank Arnesen might have to hire a new coach sooner rather than later after Hamburg’s poor showing in the northern derby.

The northern derby has always produced a lot of great football with plenty of goals in recent memory. Last season saw Werder winning at home 3-2, before Hamburg got their own win in the return fixture with a 4-0 thrashing of their arch rivals. The last ten games have produced 27 goals, and as it so often is with derbies, the form of the teams and other conventional wisdom football experts rely on don’t seem to matter when it comes to predicting what will happen in the northern derby.

Hamburg coach Michael Oenning might have taken some comfort from that fact considering that his team have lost three and drawn one on the first four match days of the season. Bremen on the other hand have had a great start to the season, winning three of their four matches. Both sides are looking to get back to the top half of the table, where they usually belong. This season is in fact the first time in ten years that neither of these teams are featured in an international competition.Tim Wiese had already fired up the atmosphere before the derby, stating that Hamburg have too many foreign players who don’t understand the importance of the derby. A lot was at stake this Saturday.

Line ups:

Werder Bremen: Wiese – Sokratis, Wolf, Prödl, Ignjovski – Bargfrede – Fritz, Hunt – Marin(Ekici 79′) – Pizarro(Naldo 86′), Arnautovic(Rosenberg 79′)

Hamburger SV: Drobny – Mancienne, Westermann, Rajkovic, Aogo – Jarolim, Tesche – Skjellbred(Töre 76′), Jansen(Kacar 88′) – Guerrero, Petric

First Half: No goals, but plenty of yellow cards

Bremen went out and played their usual midfield diamond in a 4-4-2 formation (or 4-1-2-1-2, if you prefer) against Hamburg’s 4-4-1-1 formation. A tame opening that was controlled by neither side produced one half chance in the first 20 minutes. After a cross from Paolo Guerrero from the left hand side Per Ciljan Skjellbred failed to get on the end of the ball that had been put into the box by the Peruvian international. Following the scare that saw Hamburg almost take the lead Bremen looked the more likely side to score, but were always denied in the final third of the pitch. The offside flag stopped Marko Arnautovic from finishing a lovely move that was started by Claudio Pizarro on the half way line.

After around 22 minutes some players on the pitch started to get carried away with their tackles. The first player to go into the book was the former Chelsea man Slobodan Rajkovic, who had floored Phillipp Bargfrede with a mis-timed challenge.Hamburg’s Guerrero, Michael Mancienne and Bremen’s Claudio Pizarro and Marko Marin followed Rajkovic into the referees book before half time.

Marin's unpredictable runs caused all sorts of problems for the Hamburg defense.

The last 15 minutes of the first saw Marko Marin on a number of great dribbling raids, which the HSV defense struggled with. It was however Sokratis who had the biggest chance of the game so far after a corner kick from the Marin: After Marin curled the ball into the box from the right hand side, the Greek international managed to get rid of his marker and placed his powerful header on the bar. Werder Bremen were all in all the stronger side in the first half, mainly due to the fact that Marin seems to have grown into his role, linking Bremen’s strikers with the rest of the midfield beautifully.

Second Half: Pizarro makes the difference

Three minutes into the second half Claudio Pizarro thought that he had broken the deadlock after he had scored from another Marko Marin corner. However, his goal was annulled by the match officials, and rightly so: Referee Manuel Gräfe saw that Pizarro had used Heiko Westermann’s back to gain an advantage in the air.

A beautifully struck free kick by Marko Marin hit the post in the 61 minute. The rebound was snapped up by an aware Claudio Pizarro who once again showed his class, giving Werder what was a well deserved 1-0 lead.

Heatmap: Claudio Pizarro showed yet again why he is so important for Werder. His clever movement got him two goals today.

After the goal Bremen started to defend their lead, looking for counter attacks. Hamburg failed to use their possession and turn it into chances. Werder’s counter attacks on the other hand produced a couple of decent half chances, but Jaroslav Drobny and the Hamburg defence managed to keep Werder out for the next few minutes. Marko Marin took a number of runs down the left channel, targeting Michael Mancienne (who had already been booked), often getting the better of the Englishman.

Phillipp Bargfrede covered again a lot of space between the two boxes. His good passing allowed Werder to start a number of promising attacks.

Hamburg coach Michael Oenning tried to change the complexion of the game after 76 minutes when he took off Per Ciljan Skjellbred, who did not manage to live up to his decent first half after the break, and brough in Turkish youngster Gökhan Töre after 76 minutes. However, Claudio Pizarro’s goal two minutes afterwards put a serious dent into the plan Oenning had hatched from the bench only moments earlier. Pizarro’s goal was of the astonishing sort: Aaron Hunt delivered a corner from the left hand side that found the Peruvian striker in the box. Pizarro controlled the ball on his chest, turned away Dennis Aogo, and smashed the ball into the goal from 13 meters.

Schaaf took advantage of the two goal lead, and substituted Mehmet Ekici and Markus Rosenberg onto the pitch, giving the two of them some valuable minutes, while Arnautovic and Marin were rested. Mladen Petric had the first decent HSV chance of the second in the 83, but the Croatian was denied by a good save of Tim Wiese. Hamburg’s last ditch efforts were too little, too late.

Conclusion: What now, Frank Arnesen?

All in all a well deserved Werder victory, considering that Thomas Schaaf’s team produced 6 clear-cut chances, while Hamburg produced only three. Oenning’s team looked again disorganized at crucial stages of the match, and Michael Mancienne had another dreadful day at the office. Hamburg struggle on every part of the pitch, and Michael Oenning seems to be a man out of his depth. Werder Bremen didn’t bring their A-game tonight, but managed to win easily against the HSV. Frank Arnesen has a tough couple of days ahead of him, deciding if he wants to keep his coach or not.

However, there are a couple of positive points Hamburg fans can take away from this match. Moving Heiko Westermann back into defense gave the HSV back four some much-needed leadership, David Jarolim seemed to be on his way to reach his top form, and Mladen Petric can finally play together with Paolo Guerrero, his preferred partner up front. Hamburg’s passing has improved from the previous 4 matches, 83.3% of the red shorts passes found their intended target. The team managed to play against an in form Werder Bremen for 60 minutes without conceding a goal, and most of the time they were on level terms with the green and whites.

Werder are currently finding their form. The second clean sheet of the season already after 5 matches, who would have thought? The absence of Per Mertesacker wasn’t a problem this time around, but it could well be that it’ll turn into a problem once Werder plays against better opponents. Thomas Schaaf is building a new side, replacing some of the old star players with new exciting players. This transition will take some time, but the signs are promising. The individual class of players like Marin and Pizarro made the difference and turned the game in Werder’s favor today but the entire team deserves credit for a decent performance throughout the 90 minutes of tonight’s match.

Take a look at our Bundesliga rewind about the northern derby here.

What do you think? Werder are currently second in the table, are Thomas Schaaf’s team candidates for a Champions League finish? Is Michael Oenning out of his depth? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 32-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.


  1. I knew what a terrier Ignjovski is from his marvelous displays with 1860, but I’m still impressed how smooth his transition to the Bundesliga went – and he wasn’t even playing his usual position! Well done Aca, and all the best of luck!

  2. once they have Naldo and Boenisch healthy, they can be better. the team has a lot of potential. Last year was hellish because of the departure of Oezil, the out of form Hunt and the out of position Marin…

    now they got most players healthy, and some are recovering nicely. top 5 for werder this season.

  3. It seems that Oenning is out of his element, although I don’t think he inherited a high quality squad. Kudos to Schaaf and Werder Bremen for weathering last year’s storm, and the turnaround of players such as Marin and Arnautovic bodes well for this season. I like the play of Sokratis — certainly the defending isn’t absent as was the case in many matches last season. And Wiese had a standout match.

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