A goal apiece from defender Sebastian Prödl and midfielder Fin Bartels saw Bremen collect only their second win this season and their first of the season Saturday at the Weser Stadion as they continue their mini revival under new coach Viktor Skripnik. They weren’t met with much resistance as they faced a very poor Stuttgart side that was struggling to defend and played without a recognised striker. It is also worth mentioning that Bremen’s victory meant Borussia Dortmund fell to the bottom of the Bundesliga for the first time under Jürgen Klopp.
Since Skripnik’s arrival Bremen beat Chemnitzer FC 2-0 in the DFB Pokal then earned themselves a much-needed 3 points away to high-flying Mainz 05. Stuttgart started the game just 2 places above Bremen in the table and are struggling to string together consistent performances, last weekend they were embarrassed by VfL Wolfsburg in a 4-0 home defeat but the week before that they scored a thrilling 5-4 victory away to Eintracht Frankfurt.
The only change in the starting line-up for Bremen was the return of Eljero Elia who replaced Ludovic Obraniak whilst Stuttgart reciprocated the actions of Bremen by only making one change, Gotoku Sakai came in for Georg Niedermeier in the defence.
In a similar style to recent games involving Bremen there wasn’t a lot creativity to begin the game, the fans had to wait for 15 minutes before either side had an effort on target. It fell to Zlatko Junuzović who sped down the left on a Werder counter before cutting inside and having a go with a low curled effort but it was easily saved by Thorsten Kirchbaum, who by the end of this game had conceded 13 goals in his last 4 matches.
Despite being poor both offensively and defensively Stuttgart did have one or two chances of their own and this was mainly down to Sercan Sararer. His first creation was a jinking run past Theodor Gebre-Selassie before his ball across goal that was destined for Martin Harnik was deflected behind the Stuttgart attacker.
In a game somewhat lacking in creativity it wasn’t much of a surprise when the 1st goal came from a set piece. Junuzović took the corner and Prödl got ahead of Klein before directing his effort towards goal and on its way to goal the ball bounced off of Antonio Rüdiger into the roof of the net. About 30 seconds later Stuttgart midfielder Oriol Romeu appeared to be harshly booked for a challenge on Alejandro Gálvez after replays showed that the 25-year old defender had lost his balance after landing on Romeu’s ankle causing the Spanish midfielder a lot of pain.
Stuttgart’s best chance of the affair came in the 31st minute and once again Sararer was the instigator. This time he crossed perfectly for Captain Christian Gentner who was unmarked just outside the 6-yard box and had pretty much the whole goal to aim at yet still managed to head wide to the bewilderment of himself and everyone else watching.
Alexandru Maxim had a decent chance 3 minutes later when his shot from outside the area went just over much to the delight of keeper Raphael Wolf. Tonight’s game was his 1st clean sheet for Bremen since he made his debut at the start of last season. Eljero Elia then raced down the left-hand side before sending the ball into the box towards Gebre-Selassie who was cutting in from the opposite flank but the Czech defender was unable to control the ball and it was cleared.
10 minutes into the 2nd half Skripnik appeared to have already decided to play more defensively after he took off Elia for holding midfielder Cedric Makiadi. His gamble paid off because 2 minutes later The Green and Whites doubled their lead as another Junuzović corner was turned in, this time by Fin Bartels. Skripnik has clearly worked onset pieces at the training ground as Bremen threatened from nearly every single one. Bartels started the play on the back post but as the ball came in he ran out towards the penalty spot before hitting the ball beautifully on the spin. The ball snuck just inside the near post and as the players celebrated the traditional foghorn signalled the goal to the crowd.
Stuttgart were even worse in the 2nd half but one half-chance did fall to Rüdiger from a corner as he headed just over but that was about all the excitement the Stuttgart fans got in the 2nd half. After this chance Stuttgart coach Armin Veh surprised many with his decision to take off Sararer for young Timo Werner due to the fact as mentioned earlier that Sararer was Stuttgart’s only positive in the first half.
If Sararer was the bright spark for Stuttgart then Junuzović was definitely the bright spark for Bremen creating another chance in the 67th minute this time in open play but Franco DI Santo sent his effort just wide of the upright. Bremen fans thought their players had grabbed a 3rd in the 76th minute when Gálvez turned in a corner from Junuzović that was knocked on by Di Santo but replays showed the Spaniard was clearly offside when Di Santo knocked it on. If Bremen had managed to grab a 3rd then Stuttgart would’ve replaced them as the team with the worst defensive record in the Bundesliga.
For the rest of the half Stuttgart tried to get themselves back in it but their inability to create meant there was no action of real note after the Bremen disallowed goal. The only event worth mentioning was Obraniak’s challenge on Kostić. The Polish midfielder had only come on in the 89th minute but 2 minutes into added time he appeared to rake his studs down Kostić’s shins and was perhaps lucky to escape with just a yellow.
Up next for The River Islanders is the Derby of the North away to Hamburger SV, traditionally one of the biggest games in German football, followed by a home game against SC Paderborn. Stuttgart face Augsburg at home before making the short journey to the Black Forest to play SC Freiburg the week after.
Werder Bremen: Wolf – Prödl, Gebre-Selassie, García, Gálvez – Fritz, Elia (56. Makiadi), Junuzović, Bartels (82. Ayçiçek), F. Kroos (89. Obraniak) – Di Santo
VfB Stuttgart: Kirchbaum – Klein, Schwaab (65. Baumgartl), Sakai, Rüdiger – Gentner, Sararer (63. Timo Werner), Oriol Romeu, Maxim, Kostić – Harnik
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