Werder Bremen’s good start leaves much to be desired

The green and whites may have gotten off to a good start, but their performances on the pitch need to be improved.

One could clearly spot the disappointment in the faces of the Augsburg players after referee Daniel Siebert had blown the final whistle. Augsburg outplayed Werder for most of the second half and created a handful of good scoring opportunities which they should have taken advantage of.

Werder’s players on the other hand side seemed to be relieved. Their win against Augsburg was the Green and White’s first win at home since the beginning of Feburary. The boys from the Weser haven’t won two consecutive matches in the Bundesliga since the start of the Rückrunde in the 2012/13 season, and they haven’t won two consecutive matches without conceding since April/May of 2010.

On paper, the start looks great. Werder haven’t in fact had such a good start to the season defensively speaking since 2004 (the team ended up finishing third back then). The win over Eintracht Braunschweig even ended a streak of 24 away matches on the bounce in which Werder had conceded at least one goal. However, it is still early days in the Bundesliga and the way in which the wins against Braunschweig and Augsburg have come should worry Robin Dutt and his pupils.

Plenty of problems

The first two games of the season have revealed that Werder still aren’t able to play the kind of football Thomas Eichin and Robin Dutt want to put on offer at the Weserstadion. Sporting director Eichin freely admitted in the press after a pre-season friendly that Werder still have problems in all areas on the pitch. And even though this might be Riverislanders best start to a season in a long time one can’t get away from that fact this still hasn’t change.

Both of Werder’s 1-0 wins have been rather flattering. Both Braunschweig and Augsburg created more chances during their matches against the Green and Whites. The gapping wholes in the defense from last season are still existing. The only people besides HSV who are happy about Werder’s defence at the moment are pharmaceutical wraps who in the future are going to be able to sell massive amounts of blood pressure and heart medication to Werder Bremen’s fans. The Green and Whites defending has driven many a heart to the ragged edge.

Augsburg created four times as many shots as Werder in today’s match (5-20) and was time and time again unlucky not to get the ball over line. Goalkeeper Sebastian Mielitz is still displaying a weakness when he gets out on high cross and corner kicks, whilst Sebastian Prödl’s and Assani Lukimya’s distribution could be improved upon.

Furthermore, both of Werder’s goals involved a bit of luck. The first one was scored by Junuzović, who stormed onto a clearance by fellow Austrian Prödl, whilst Mehmet Ekici pretty much was forced to shoot, because he simply didn’t have any viable passing options at hand.

It is by all means commendable that Robin Dutt wants to keep parts of the short passing game Thomas Schaaf has instilled in his side over the years; however, Werder’s passing has probably been the team’s biggest weakness going forward. The Green and Whites misplaced 30% of their passes against Braunschweig and a staggering 34% against their opponents from Augsburg.

New signings

Werder have so far only signed Cédric Makiadi, Luca Caldirola and Franco di Santo. Makiadi is still struggling to adapt to his new team, but should be an asset down the line, whilst Caldirola has been convincing in his first two matches in the Bundesliga. Di Santo was signed before the match against Augsburg, but wasn’t in Werder’s match-day squad. It stands to be seen wether these signings are going to fix the problems Eichin was talking about during the pre-season.

Werder are currently also looking to sign a left back due to Lukas Schmitz’s injury. Both Theodor Gebre Selassie and Caldirola have been filling in at left back for Werder Bremen so far this season, but both of them are only makeshift solutions. The former Norwegian international and current Fulham player John Arne Riise has been in negotiations with Werder Bremen. The 32-year-old could provide some much needed experience and stability to the current back line.

Tough tasks ahead

Werder have been given a bit of an easy ride at the start of the season, however, this is about to change. Dutt’s team are going to face Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach away from home in their next two matches. Both these teams have been in excellent form at the start of the season.

Werder’s weaknesses in defence are far more likely to be exploited by these two sides than by Augsburg and Braunschweig. However, one can’t get away from the fact that psychology plays a big and decisive factor in football matches. Werder were expected to win both of their first matches, and the pressure has been mounting on the side after their poor form in the pre-season and their defeat in the DFB Pokal against 1. FC Saarbrücken.

The pressure from the first two matches won’t be an issue in Werder’s next game. Nobody expects the boys in green and white to win against last season’s Champions League finalists Dortmund. If anything, this is going to work in Werder Bremen’s favour. Now it is up to Robin Dutt utilize just that and to sort out a few things on the training ground.

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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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