Back to back games in the Weserstadion! After drawing to Borussia Dortmund on matchday 32, the Green-Whites are back at home just six days later on the penultimate matchday in the Bundesliga, when they will face off against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at 15:30 CEST. Another Champions League-hopeful for Werder to battle but if the last game taught us anything, it's that the Green-Whites can fight side by side with these big guns.
Previous encounters: The game between the two sides on matchday 16 earlier in the season, did not finish the way Kohfeldt would have wanted, with the Green-Whites losing 1-0 in the BayArena. Lucas Alario got the decisive goal in the 11th minute of the match, handing Leverkusen the win and also Ole Käuper a loss on his Werder debut. The game on matchday 24 of last season however was slightly better, finishing 1-1. Leverkusen went into the lead early on through Kevin Volland, only for Claudio Pizarro to get the equaliser shortly before the 90 minutes were up. The 6 minutes of injury time caused more drama however as Leverkusen were awarded a penalty. Fortunately, Ömer Torprak’s nerves failed him.
The list grows: Week after week the list of teams that have failed to win in the Weserstadion has grown. The last of which to come and go without three points was Borussia Dortmund, as they only managed to draw 1-1 with the Green-Whites last Sunday. Kohfeldt alone has now gone 11 games unbeaten there since his tenure started. This weekend the competition will be high as another top club comes to the Osterdeich. Head coach Kohfeldt however is hoping to give the Green-White fans something to celebrate in what is Werder’s last home game this season. “We want to be unbeaten at home for the second half of the season – that would be great for our supporters. When an opponent comes to the Weserstadion, they know it’s tough to pick up points,” explained Kohfeldt.
An awful April: 6-2 loss against Bayern in the DFB-Pokal semi final, a 4-0 loss to Dortmund and a 1-0 loss at home to VfB Stuttgart. April has been a disappointing month for the “Werkself”, which has seen them drop from third place on matchday 30 to 5th on mathday 32. After two successive Bundesliga defeats and three successive defeats in all competitions, things are looking slightly gloomier for coach Heiko Herrlich and his side’s Champions League qualification hopes. Whether Leverkusen will make the Champions is yet to be seen but recent trends seem negative. Since February, Leverkusen have not scored in seven out of twelve Bundesliga matches. Werder should also be hopeful as they come up against a side who seems to be struggling in front of goal and behind their own defence lies a man in the form of his life; Jiri Pavlenka. The Czech player has been on the top of his game recently – long may it continue, Jiri.
Florian Kohfeldt on the match: “Bayer have a very young team and with that comes inconsistency in their form,” recognised Kohfeldt, adding, “We’re talking here about inconsistencies on a very high level. Leverkusen are fighting for a Champions League place. They demonstrate a clear way of playing; they want to be offensive and decisive. They also have professionalls like Kevin Volland, Julian Brandt and Kai Havertz in their ranks. They can be extremely versatile,” explained Kohfeldt. Leverkusen’s recent dip in form means that they will need to win in Bremen to have a chance of qualifying in the top four; “We want to and will prevent them from doing that,” affirmed the Green-Whites coach.
One last time: 196 games, 22 goals, 54 assists. Zlatko Junuzovic only has 90 minutes left to play in the Weserstadion. After six and a half years at Werder the 30-year-old Austrian will be leaving the club in summer. “He should get the send-off he deserves. He should leave the Weserstadion for the last time as a winner,” hopes head coach Kohfeldt. This season, our number 16 has scored twice and picked up five assists in front of a home crowd. Zladdi would no doubt be pleased to put on a show one last time for the Werder fans and let them sing his name for the final time.