Another home game, another promoted side. ‘What luck!‘ might be the reaction of many a Werder fan, with the first win of the season against Hannover 96 relatively fresh in the memory. On Saturday afternoon, another promoted side in the shape of VfB Stuttgart will pay the Weserstadion a visit. The Swabian visitors, currently at 12th in the table, can be pleased with their season so far, but at the same time, despite an unfortunate defeat to Leipzig on matchday 13, Werder’s season has taken a positive turn and things are looking up. Saturday’s aim is clear: three more points!
Relegation thriller: At the end of the 2015/16 season, Werder fans everywhere rejoiced as the club avoided relegation in dramatic fashion. Pivotal in the survival campaign was matchday 32’s encounter against no-other than Saturday’s opponents. VfB Stuttgart travelled to Bremen in 15th place for the big six-pointer where they witnessed a Green-White miracle. After Fin Bartels put Werder ahead 10 minutes into proceedings, Stuttgart equalised quickly through Daniel Didavi, but Viktor Skripnik’s men were unfazed by the setback and ended the half with a 3-1 lead. The visitors pulled one back shortly after the restart to raise those Green-White heart-rates for a while but the tension in the crowd was soon relieved, by a team who never lost their nerve: Claudio Pizarro, Fin Bartels and Anthony Ujah sent the fans into ecstasy, turning a narrow 3-2 lead into a 6-2 thrashing and ensuring all ‘six’ points stayed in Bremen.
VfB’s style of play: "They press high, try to close down quickly and aggressively and then attempt to penetrate quickly as well. Individually, the team has a lot of pace. Both at home and away, VfB typically look to counterattack, which is dangerous, but does offer a lot of space. This will be difficult to find, but it’s there, and we will try to make use of it," said head coach Florian Kohlfeldt in his press conference analysis of the opposition. The aim for Saturday is as clear as ever: "We want to win the game. It will be a difficult game, but we are optimistic," said the boss.
Personnel: The good news regarding captain Zlatko Junuzovic’s availability is that the Austrian can play again after being ruled out of last week’s clash with RB Leipzig. Midfield maestro Thomas Delaney is also ready to play against Stuttgart. For Luca Caldirola, on the other hand, the decision as to whether he will be an option for Saturday’s game can only be made following Friday’s training session. Aron Johannsson will most likely not be in the squad. The forward is still struggling with knee problems and will only be able to support his team from the sidelines.
On a warning: Florian Kainz has the threat of a suspension hanging over him. The Austrian got his fourth yellow card against Augsburg. Despite this, the saying goes for every other Green-White - play hard but fair.
The officials: Bastian Dankert will take charge of a Werder game for the second time this season. The referee officiated the first home game of the season against FC Bayern. The 37-year-old has been a Bundesliga referee since 2012 and has been the man in the middle 70 times. Markus Häcker and Rafael Foltyn will be the linesmen whilst the fourth official will be Florian Heft. The video assistant will be Dr. Jochen Drees and Johann Pfeifer.
The attacking duo: It has been clear to see, especially last season but also this campaign, that Max Kruse and Fin Bartels are a dangerous duo. Of the eight goals scored by Werder this season, the KB partnership has scored five, three of which were assisted by the other.