Werder Watch: Up, Up, and Away

It was pretty tough as a Werder fan in the Hinrunde having to wait nine games for a win, being thumped by Bayern, losing to HSV, and quite frankly having a defence that was leakier than a granny’s bladder.  But then came the ‘Skripniker’ and since the restart after the winter break, it’s been a much more enjoyable time following the Grün-Weißen. Such is the lot of a football fan to endure the up and downs.

Currently most definitely on an ‘up’, the question now is how long can this go on? Seriously, we’re not used to it, we’re enjoying it (who wouldn’t with five wins on the bounce and a charge up the table), but the bubble has to burst at some point doesn’t it?

Bartels shines

One person certainly enjoying the Werder renaissance is midfielder Fin Bartels, and quite frankly he has been a major factor is the resurgence. While Zlatko Junuzovic has grabbed most of the adulation for his free kicks, assists and contract extension, Bartels intelligent play and work-rate have gone slightly under the radar.

His versatility in both midfield and attack have made him indispensable to coach Viktor Skripnik. Stats show that he has covered the most distance of any Werder player this season (average 12.03km per match).

Having suffered relegation four times already in his career (Holstein Kiel, Hansa Rostock, St Pauli) the current move away from the drop zone will be most welcome.

Selassie signs

Hot on the heels of Zlatko Junuzovic’s contract extension at the Weser Stadion comes the news that fullback Theodor Gebre-Selassie has followed suit and tied himself to the club until 2018.

The Czech right-back, signed from Slovan Liberec in the summer of 2012, has been a key performer in Werder’s Rückrunde blitz start and the club are delighted in the fact he has committed his long-term future.

“Theo is an important player for us and a great person, who is a well-liked by the other players. His new contract is another part of our future plans, which we are successfully implementing. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with Theo,” said Thomas Eichin.

The 28-year-old also expressed his delight at sorting out his future saying: “I feel home here and have done since my first day at the club. The past few months have shown how far we have developed as a team. I’m looking forward to being part of this team and to help the club progress.”

Next up: Schalke

Five wins in a row means Werder are the Bundesliga form team, but for the third match in succession they face a team above them in the table. A tough away trip to Gelsenkirchen is the task on Saturday to face Schalke.

The Königsblauen will be keen to get back to winning ways in order not to lose ground in the battle for Champions League places. A narrow defeat to Frankfurt last weekend was their first this year, and that was followed midweek by a 2-0 loss to Real Madrid. Is this a good or bad time to be facing Roberto Di Matteo’s side?

The good news for the Werder back four is that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is still suspended. Aside from the injured Galvez and Bargfrede, Viktor Skripnik should be able to choose from a full squad.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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