“The team knows what lies ahead of them,” said Florian Kohfeldt in advance of Werder Bremen's upcoming away game against FC Bayern München. Werder will kick-off the first of two back-to-back matches against Bayern on Saturday (15:30 CEST) in the Allianz Arena, before facing them in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals on 24 April. The team will be looking for a win after having lost to Bayern in their first meeting earlier this season.
Squad news: According to head coach Florian Kohfeldt, “Jiri Pavlenka will definitely be able to play.” Werder will also be able to call on Philipp Bargfrede and Johannes Eggestein, who both trained individually over the past few days. “Only Fin Bartels will not be able to play,” Kohfeldt said in advance of Saturday’s lineup.
Previous meeting: Former Werder player Serge Gnabry scored a brace for Bayern in their first meeting of the season. Bayern pressed hard right from the start, with Robert Lewandowski forcing Jiri Pavlenka to parry away his shot in the 7th minute. Niko Kovac’s side remained dominant and took the lead in the 20th minute thanks to Gnabry. Werder were able to exploit some defensive lapses from the visitors, with Yuya Osako heading in the equalizer (29’). Bayern pulled ahead once again just after the start of the second half through Gnabry, who netted his second goal of the match. Max Kruse had a chance to draw level but just missed hitting the target. To top things off, Werder defender Niklas Moisander was sent off after receiving a second yellow card following a foul on Lewandowski.
The boss on the game: “We’re up against an opponent that has proven that they are the strongest team in Germany. There is no plan in existence that could take all of their strengths out of the game,” Kohfeldt said in a press conference on Thursday. Bayern have won eight of their last nine Bundesliga matches and are in the midst of their best-ever second half of the season in club history. “We’re also capable of turning a game in our favour,” Kohfeldt said. “It’s clear that we need to put forth a strong performance and for Bayern to not have such a great day.”
The opponents: Bayern are in top form as the end of the season nears, having won their last two matches convincingly with a 5-0 against Dortmund and 4-1 against Düsseldorf. They currently sit at the top of the table with 67 points in 29 games. But, in order to take home the title, Bayern need to win as many points as possible as second-place Borussia Dortmund are hot on their heels. With just one point separating the two teams, Werder could throw a wrench into Bayern’s title pursuit.
Key player: Florian Kohfeldt was full of praise for Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski after the match against Borussia Mönchengladbach. “I have a lot of respect for the way that he has dominated the Bundesliga over the past few years! Especially since he has constantly improved,” said the Werder head coach. One just has to look at Lewandowski’s stats to see the proof: Lewandowski has been the league’s top goal scorer three times over the last five years and is once again one of the top offensive players this season. Lewandowski is the lone striker at the top of Niko Kovac’s formation, and is always a threat in front of the net—one that Werder will have to contain.
The officials: Tobias Welz will be the referee for the match against Bayern. The last Werder match that Welz officiated was a 2-1 loss to Stuttgart on matchday 6. The 41-year-old will be accompanied by Rafael Foltyn and Holger Henschel on the sidelines. Martin Petersen is the fourth official while Felix Zwayer and Mark Borsch will be the video assistants.