Werder Bremen still in need of improvements despite good results

If nothing else seems to be working individual quality can come to a team’s rescue. This was the case for Werder Bremen on Saturday after the Green and Whites had tried to break down Eintracht’s defense for most of the second without creating an awful lot of chances.

In the end it was Milot Raschica’s resolve that made the difference between the two teams. In the 96th minute the Kosovo Albanian showed at first great spirit fighting for the ball. After being fouled, the 22-year-old winger took it upon himself to slot home the free kick which gave Werder a late (and rather flattering) win.

Winning matches in this fashion is often times down to sheer luck. Given that Werder wants to reach a European competition this season the club needs all the lucky breaks it can get. Saturday’s match against The Eagles showed that Werder still is a long way off when it comes to putting on the performances one does expect from a Europa League side.

The Riverislanders were static and completely shaken after Eintracht had equalized through Haller’s penalty in the 54th minute. Eintracht ran almost as much as Werder despite being reduced to 10 men after 32 minutes.

For most of the second half it looked more likely that Adi Hütter’s men were going to turn the match around than Werder finding answers to win the match. After the match Werder captain Max Kruse found clear-cut words:

“We lost the plot completely. We demand of ourselves to be more in control of play. In the end we didn’t find any deep runs, we were far too static.”

High ambitions – Werder looking for European football

The last few seasons haven’t necessarily been filled with highlights from the point of view of Werder fans. Fighting against relegation and a string of coaches not working out has been a recurring theme ever since Thomas Schaaf left.

However, this time around the club seems to be sure to have found the right man in Florian Kohfeldt. Now it’s time to challenge for a spot in Europe according to the club’s officials.


Florian Kohfeldt — the man entrusted to bring Werder to Europe

The head of the board, Marco Bode, told Bild that Werder needed to be the best team of the chasing pack in order to accomplish their goals. Sporting Director Frank Baumann has been allowed to focus on adding quality to the squad. Besides Thomas Delaney no important player has left the team. Last season’s meager showing in attack should be improved upon given that Werder has managed to add considerable attacking fire power in Kruse’s old pal Martin Harnik from Hannover, along with Yuya Osako and Werder legend Claudio Pizarro and from 1.FC Köln.  Additionally, teenaged American Josh Sargent, already with three senior caps for the USMNT, has scored five goals in Regionalliga Nord play with the Werder reserves to begin his professional career, and will work with the senior squad during the international break.

Problems in need of fixing

However, all these improvements on paper haven’t really shown to work out during the first two matches. Yes, Werder might have had their best start to the season since the 2013/14 campaign, but so far they haven’t really been challenged by any great sides. The match against Hannover 96 could have easily been lost and the outing against Eintracht Frankfurt was rather dire given that The Riverislanders needed a lucky punch towards the end of the match despite having had a man advantage for over 60 minutes.

The transfers of Davy Klaasen and Nuri Şahin have seemingly improved the midfield considerably, but Werder does lack another holding midfielder who can replace the injury-plagued Philipp Bargfrede when needed. Kohfeldt remarked ahead of the season that Werder needed another holding midfielder who can do the dirty work in front of defense.

Both of the midfielders at hand can help Werder to create more going forward. With only 37 goals scored Werder’s attack turned out to be the biggest problem after Florian Kohfeldt took over. However, after Delaney left the club and with no Bargfrede back -up in sight, the transition from attack to defense could become a serious problem this season.

English-language Werder fans can hear top-notch commentary and opinion on all things green and white on the RFW Pod

Nuri Şahin brings the experience of over 40 European appearances to Werder
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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.

1 Comment

  1. You are right, Philip Bargfrede has been doing a terrific job since last season and his replacement is surely needed. Werder now has a ton of meager players. They must not add to them. What they lack is creativity. Nuri Sahin and Harnik are not going to solve it. They need to have at least one proven and excellent winger who can create chances from wide areas since they rarely create chances from that place. Rashica is good but good only for the lasat 20 minutes when everybody is tired and his can complete his mazy runs. Someone like Ihlas Bebou would have been a great addition to the squad. Tactical-wise, i think Kohfeldt has got it spot on.

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