1. FSV Mainz vs. SV Werder Bremen 1 – 3 : Coface-curse continues as Pizarro is on target for Werder

Thomas Tuchel’s men haven’t won their last five matches at home. Tonight they were outsmarted by Werder Bremen.

Mainz have not won a single game at home since their season opener against Bayer Leverkusen. Thomas Tuchel’s team had the chance to put this right against a Werder side that had taken one meager point from their last three matches. Tuchel has taken 114 points in the Bundesliga with his team, only one point less than Jürgen Klopp managed to grab during his tenure as a coach in the carnival city.

If Mainz wanted to win this match and put their coach’s name into the history books, they had to find a way to take Claudio Pizarro out of the game. The Peruvian had been involved in Werder’s last 9 goals going into the match, making him easily Werder’s most important player. Werder have historically thrived against Mainz, winning six out the ten fixtures between the two teams, only loosing two.


1. FSV Mainz: Wetklo – Pospech(Ivanschitz 70’), Bungert, Noveski(Baumgartlinger 15’), Fathi – Kirchhoff – Caligiuri, Soto – Malli – Choupo-Moting, Ujah(Müller 70’)

SV Werder Bremen: Wiese – Sokratis, Prödl, Naldo, Schmitz – Ignjovski(Wolf 88’) – Fritz, Hunt – Ekici(Bargfrede 68’) – Pizarro, Rosenberg(Wagner 63’)

First half: Mainz dominate and Pizarro with stroke of genius

Both coaches decided to send their teams on in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation, but there were some subtle differences between Schaaf’s and Tuchel’s tactical approaches. Bremen’s Hunt and Fritz were constantly switching sides during the first 60 minutes of the match, while Bremen was laying deep lurking for counter attacks. Schaaf chose a more a direct and vertical approach than Tuchel. Mainz tried to play their fluid attacking game, with players switching positions all the time, with an emphasis on a precise short passing game.

Mainz had more ball contacts and passes than Werder, but Schaaf's counter attacking strategy relied on quick counters and set pieces and not possession.

Neither side managed to find their feet in the first 22 minutes, giving the spectators in the Coface Arena a truly scrappy game. It was Mainz that produced the first half chance. A beautiful sequence of passes had taken the 05’ers into the penalty area but left back Lukas Schmitz managed to clear the ball for a corner just in front of Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.

Young gun Yunus Malli took the corner kick and his well placed ball found Nico Bungert, who headed the ball into the goal after not being disturbed enough by Mehmet Ekici giving Mainz the lead.

However, Mainz holding onto a lead as been a rare sight this season. Seven minutes after they had taken the lead Werder managed to equalize. Sokratis took the ball off Choupo-Moting with a rough, but fair challenge, sending Claudio Pizarro on his way. The Peruvian received the ball 35 meters in front of goal, danced around four of Mainz players whilst taking himself into the penalty area and put a delicate lob over Mainz keeper Christian Wetklo to make it 1-1.

Mainz recovered fairly quickly from Werder’s equalizer. Malli put a lovely through ball into the penalty area finding Choupo-Moting. The former Hamburg striker found only the outside of the net.

Both Pizarro and Ujah failed to get another goal for Bremen and Mainz respectively just before half time with two headers from within the 16 yard. Thomas Schaaf could be the happier of the two coaches at half time. His team had only managed to get one shot on target, while Mainz had managed to get four shots on target.

Second half: Early lead for Werder not threatened by a unimaginative Mainz

The spectators in the Coface Arena had just taken their seats when Bremen decided to start the second half in style. A pass from Claudio Pizarro found Aaron Hunt 22 meters in front of goal. The former German international fired a rocket with his left foot towards the goal, placing the ball in the top right corner, making it unreachable for Wetklo and bringing the score to 1-2.

Claudio Pizarro had four attempts on goal, and scored once. The Peruvian has been involved in 11 of Werder's last 12 goals.

”Teams are at their most vulnerable just after they have scored”, is one of the standard phrases commentators love to use. In case of Werder it seemed to be true tonight. Pospech had the chance to get Mainz back into the game after a lovely cross from Fathi two minutes after Hunt’s goal, but the Czech skied the ball from a little over 7 meters in front of goal. Five minutes later it was Choupo-Moting’s turn to cross the ball into the box. This time Austrian defender Sebastian Prödl just got to the ball in front of Anthony Ujah clearing the ball for a corner kick.

Schaaf reacted to Mainz’s run on goal by bringing Wagner on for the weak Rosenberg in the 63rd minute, and taking off Ekici and bringing on Bargfrede in the 68th minute. Werder decided to wait for opportunities to counter in the last 20 minutes, and turned their formation into a very defensive 4-2-2-2.

Elkin Soto crossed the ball 6 times during the match, more than any other player.

Sebastian Prödl decided the game when he headed the ball onto the post after a beautifully hit Aaron Hunt free kick in the 78th minute. Mainz’s defenders decided that the best thing to do was to watch the ball return into the five yard box, where Prödl made sure that he’d place the ball into the net for Werder.

Werder had a couple of good opportunities for counter attacks that could have led to a fourth goal for them, but Schaaf’s men wasted both of them. Mainz tried their best to get back into the game in the last 12 minutes, but failed to produce anything of significance.

Conclusion: Just what the doctor ordered for Werder

Werder needed desperately to get their confidence back after the team’s recent poor performances. A Mainz that had come to play attacking football suited Werder rather well. Werder will face tough opponents in the next few weeks and if the team wants to stay in contention for the European spots it needs all the points it can get from weaker opponents such as Mainz.

The boys from the carnival city were once again shown that football is a men’s game. This year’s edition of the 05’ers is still not ruthless enough in front of goal. Furthermore, the team often makes critical mistakes in front of their own goal when they can least afford them. Mainz will have to pick up their game from here on out and hope for better luck against Stuttgart next week. Wolfsburg’s negative record of loosing 7 matches at home in a row is getting uncomfortably close. Winter has come, and Mainz will probably spend the rest of the Hinrunde (first half of the season) fighting against relegation. Very few of Heidel’s transfers seem to be working out at the moment, maybe it is time for some new signings in the next transfer window?

Man of the match: Claudio Pizarro

Werder Bremen can’t seem to get anything done without Claudio Pizarro these days. Getting the green and whites the equalizer, queuing up Hunt for the all important second goal turned around the game for Werder. The 33-year-old seems to be in the form of his life at the moment. Werder’s new pairing in central defense deserves also a lot of praise, for playing a very good 90 minutes together. If Naldo and Prödl keep at it like this, maybe Werder won’t have to concede too many goals this season. Aaron Hunt surprised many Werder fans today by having his first decent performance in over a month. If the former German international continues to play like he did tonight, he’ll slowly, but surely, silence his critics amongst the Werder fans.

Mainz youngster Yunus Malli had a very good game in the first half of the match, while Choupo-Moting at times was very dangerous in front of goal.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-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.

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