After a half-time reset, Werder Bremen eventually progressed to the second round of the DFB-Pokal, following a well-deserved 3-0 win in their first competitive game of the season against Würzburger Kickers. In front of 7,500 spectators in the historic Bieberer Berg stadium in Offenbach, played there due to noise control restrictions in Würzburg, an unexpected long-range lob from central defender Milos Veljkovic helped put the Green-Whites on their way into the second round. A quick-fire double from Max Kruse and Maximilian Eggestein sealed the game for Werder with more than ten minutes to spare.
Line-up and formation: Head coach Alexander Nouri chose to field the same XI as he did in the previous tough game against Valencia. In front of goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka was the back three of Robert Bauer, Lamine Sané and Milos Veljkovic, and the two wing-backs Theodor Gebre Selassie and Ludwig Augustinsson. The central defensive midfield position was filled by Maximilian Eggestein, with Jérome Gondorf and captain Thomas Delaney taking up the other two more attacking midfield positions. In attack Florian Kainz lined up alongside Max Kruse.
7’: The game’s first effort comes from Augustinsson. The Swede gets the ball onto his stronger left foot on the edge of the box, but his strike is a yard or so wide of the target.
27’: Werder are getting closer and Augustinsson is involved again. His cross from the left is coolly headed down by Gondorf towards Gebre Selassie, who does well to force Kickers keeper Hesl into a save from the Czech’s volley.
38’: The best chance of the game and it requires a stunning save from Hesl to deny Werder the opening goal. It’s one wing back to another as Augstinsson’s delivery finds Gebre Selassie, but his first-time effort is clawed off the line by the scrambling Würzburg keeper.
45+1’: Moments before the half-time whistle, the home side have their best moment of the match. Sané inadvertently sets up Taffertshofer, but he sees his strike rattle the post.
50’: GOAL! 1-0 to Werder. Hesl can’t quite believe it, though neither can Milos Veljkovic. His cross from deep flies through the air, all the way over the Würzburg goalkeeper and into the top corner. It’s lucky, but incredibly important!
58’: Sané climbs highest to meet Florian Kainz’s corner kick, only to head narrowly wide of the upright.
74’: GOAL! 2-0 to Werder. The Green-Whites have their all-important cushion, as Kainz’s pinpoint cross is volleyed home by Max Kruse. Easy as you like.
77’: GOAL! 3-0 to Werder. That’ll do it. Hesl’s risky pass out is too hot for Nikolaou and Maximilian Eggestein nicks the ball off him, before rounding the keeper and slotting into the empty net.
Summary: Kickers were set up from the start to be as defensively solid as possible. In the opposition half the Green-Whites were met by a densely packed and deep sitting Kickers side, that was happy to wait and hope for Werder to become impatient before hitting them on the counter attack. However, Werder gave them no such opportunity. Instead, SVW calmly dominated possession and controlled the match. Werder looked somewhat short of ideas at times though, with their only real threat to Kickers coming when the dangerous looking Augustinsson made progress down the left wing. Apart from that, the Green-Whites failed to make any real inroads into dangerous areas in the first half. The hosts, who seemed to lack any attacking threat, almost turned the one-sided affair on its head shortly before half time, when Taffertshofer hit the post from close range. This made it all the more important for Werder to really up their game after the restart. They were helped as Veljkovic’s unexpected looping effort went in just at the right time to knock the wind out of Kickers’ sails. Werder then made the difference in class between them and the courageous Würzburger Kickers count, as they ended up winning the match 3-0.