The return of Bundesliga action following the international break was eagerly awaited at the Weser Stadion, but the SVW faithful were forced to witness a rusty performance which saw the Grün-Weißen held to a 0-0 draw with Mainz.
It wasn’t exactly a case of full-circle for Viktor Skripnik as he welcomed Martin Schmidt’s Mainz for this week 27 match-up. The ‘Ukrainian Messiah’ faced the Null-Fünfer in his first match after taking over from Robin Dutt and secured the club’s first win of the campaign, but was unable to repeat the trick in the return.
Davie Selke was in the starting XI, and as the teams came out there was no discernible animosity shown him by the Werder fans following the youngster’s decision to move (defect) to RB Leipzig in the summer. Zlatko Junuzovic surprisingly was on the bench following his toils with the Austrian national side midweek.
The international break had clearly affected the team’s rhythm and cohesion. The opening to the game was plagued with misplaced passes and niggly fouls born of rustiness.
Mainz probably should have gone in at halftime with a lead, but Yunus Malli wasted the best opportunity of the first 45 minutes. The attacking midfielder dribbled into a dangerous position, only for Rafael Wolf and Jannik Vestergaard to force him into firing into the side netting.
It wasn’t quite the first period the 41,000 fans had come to expect, and it was once again the visitors who looked more potent in front of goal as the second half got underway. Ja-Cheol Koo forced a save from Wolf before Johannes Geis also brought a fine save from a free kick.
I would have thought a change was required at half-time, but coach Skripnik deemed the hour mark the appropriate time to send on Junuzovic. It was a case of villain off and hero on as the ineffectual Selke was the man replaced.
The introduction of Juno seemed to instantly transform Werder and the chances so lacking in the first-half started to be created. The only problem was they were falling to Levent Aycicek (ay!-ay!-Ay!cicek more like) who had clearly left his shooting boots at home.
Mainz got away with a penalty shout after captain Niko Bungert inadvertently handled. Levin Öztunali replaced the hapless Aycicek, but it would have been just as well to have brought on his granddad (78-year-old Uwe Seeler) as he surely would still have been more accurate with his shooting than Aycicek!
A point was, on the face of it, the most Werder deserved for their efforts. Fin Bartels, nonetheless, had a glorious chance in the final seconds to snatch the win, but he curled his shot wide with the chance of glory left beckoning.
90 minutes of frustration then for an expectant Weser Stadion, and thoughts will instantly turn to an improvement next week against bottom side VfB Stuttgart.
Star-man: In just over 30 minutes of second-half action, Zlatko Junuzovic raised the bar and injected some much-needed quality into the Werder attack.
Werder 0-0 Mainz
Werder: Wolf, Gebre-Selassie, Prödl, Vestergaard, Sternberg, Bargfrede, Bartels, Kroos, Aycicek (Öztunali), Selke (Junuzovic 62), Di Santo
Mainz: Karuis, Brosinski, Bungert, Bell, Park, Geis, Baumgartlinger, Koo (Allagui 86), Malli, de Blasis (Bengtsson 69), Olazaki
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