Match Preview: Werder Bremen v Hamburg

It’s the 103rd Nordderby this weekend as arch rivals Werder Bremen and Hamburger SV go head-to-head at the Weser Stadion. The hosts find themselves really struggling for form at the moment, while the visitors are struggling to get eleven fit players on the pitch. No matter, Saturday’s clash should prove a real cracker.

This weekend’s Nordderby could either be a blessing or a curse for Werder Bremen coach Viktor Skripnik and his team. After last week’s 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Wolfsburg, and a run of poor form which has started to eat into the good will afforded him by Werder fans, a win against their North German rivals could provide just the tonic they all need right now. On the flipside, a loss to their Hanseaten neighbours would just pour further misery on an already beleaguered Werder.

The second half of last season saw Viktor Skripnik really turn around the club’s fortunes and the club went into this season with high hopes of building on that platform, but for whatever reason it just hasn’t really happened for Werder thus far this campaign and they find themselves with just four teams worse off than them. Indeed HSV are five points above them.

This season might not be going according to plan, but the last five derbies at the Weser Stadion have all ended with wins for the Grün-Weißen with four of those victories also seeing the visitors leave without scoring. The hosts will be hoping that history repeats itself this weekend as they look to give themselves some hope and cheer as we approach the winter break.

Despite their recent poor record on their short trip to Bremen, HSV could justifiably deem themselves the favourites going into this season’s clash. Bruno Labbadia’s side have shown this season that they have improved and the dire scrap against relegation that has been endured over the past two seasons may not be a fate they have to repeat this time around.

Last weekend’s impressive win over Borussia Dortmund will have given them a real confidence boost and will only serve to increase the belief that they can come away victorious from this weekend’s match.

They will however travel down the A1 Autobahn with a rather depleted squad. They won’t be using that as an excuse though and will be looking to finally lay to rest the ghost of the past five meetings and gain the bragging rights over their old foe especially with Werder boasting the worst home record in the league.

Team news:

Werder coach Viktor Skripnik has been keeping his cards very close to his chest in the build-up to Saturday’s clash. Clemens Fritz will be a big loss as he sits this one out through suspension having already picked up five yellow cards. He could even spring a surprise and hand veteran Claudio Pizarro a start upfront alongside Anthony Ujah.

Young Swiss fullback Ullises Garcia is out with a knee injury, while US striker Aron Johannsson remains a longer-term absentee following surgery on his hip.

As mentioned, HSV go into the weekend with a lengthy list of absentees. Apart from the long-term casualties Dennis Diekmeier, Albin Ekdal and Emir Spahic, Bruno Labbadia has a host of other concerns.

Aaron Hunt had recovered from injury, but now has tonsillitis. Striker Pierre-Michel Lasogga has gone down with a stomach infection and will miss out, while Gojko Kacar has been struck with a knee injury in training and is likely to be out for the rest of 2015.


Bundesliga played: 102

Werder won: 37 Hamburg won: 32 Draws: 33

Last season: Werder Bremen 1 (Di Santo 84) Hamburg 0   (19/04/15)

*Hamburg have failed to score on their last four visits to the Weser Stadion.

Key men:

Anthony Ujah

Of his five goals this season, only one has come at the Weser Stadion. The former Köln frontman could really endear himself to the Werder faithful with a goal or two against what will be a makeshift HSV back line. The Nigerian could well have veteran forward Claudio Pizarro alongside him and it will be interesting to see how the two combine should Skripnik go for that option.

Lewis Holtby

The midfielder was arguably the man-of-the-match in the 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund and a repeat performance wouldn’t go amiss on Saturday in what will surely be a fiercely contested derby. Goals and assists have been in rather short supply from the 25-year-old this season, but with one of each last week, things could be starting to look up.

What they’re saying:

Viktor Skripnik: “We can rehabilitate ourselves immediately, but we could also fall even deeper. We have to do better and present ourselves differently. They are likely to come with a lot of self-confidence. The favourites do not always win. No matter who is in what condition, it is all about the prestige.”

Bruno Labbadia: “We don’t want to complain [about the injury crisis], but just roll our sleeves up and do our best. Absentees are always an opportunity for other players. When the referee gets the game underway on Saturday, the previous week’s results don’t come into it. Nevertheless, we are confident going into the derby and want to build upon our performances against Hannover and Dortmund”.

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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.