Werder Bremen are unbeaten in nine competitive games and go to Leverkusen this weekend (Sunday 17th March, 13:30 CET) looking to continue this record with a win. However, it won’t be easy. “After Bayern, they have the best squad in the league for me. It’ll be a very exciting game,” said Florian Kohfeldt on Friday.
The last meeting: Werder lost to Leverkusen in the Weserstadion earlier this season. The guests started to control the game early and went in front through Kevin Volland. Werder came back and created some chances, but Julian Brandt and Karim Bellarabi scored in quick succession to put Leverkusen 3-0 up at the break. The Green-Whites were better after half time and scored a quick-fire double through Claudio Pizarro and Yuya Osako to make it 3-2 in the 62nd minute. However, Kai Havertz then got another for the away side. Hope started to fade and Werder conceded another two, meaning that Leverkusen won the game 6-2.
The boss on the game: Florian Kohfeldt is expecting a very different Leverkusen side to the one Werder came up against earlier this season. “Counter-attacking isn’t their game anymore. I find their approach of playing football very attractive. They link up a lot and they understand each other well,” said Kohfeldt. What hasn’t changed from the previous game, however, is the speed of Leverkusen’s attacks: “They find the tempo quickly and they also have the players for it,” he added.
Squad news: Claudio Pizarro picked up an injury during the week and will be out for several weeks. Yuya Osako will also be out of the squad. “With Yuya, it’s not about him being injured anymore, it’s the fact that he was out for a long time,” said Kohfeldt. Apart from that, all the players are fit. Fin Bartels, who made his comeback last week, “has coped well with training and is definitely a candidate for the squad,” added the boss.
The opponents: Leverkusen have been the second-best team in the league in the Rückrunde. Peter Bosz’s team have won six of their last eight games and have been particularly strong in attack, scoring 20 goals in 2019. Because of that, Leverkusen are a side that Werder are competing against to get Europe. Whilst their opponents are currently six points ahead of them, Werder could close the gap somewhat with a win on Sunday.
Key player: Kevin Volland is the man scoring the goals for Leverkusen. The attacker has scored five goals so far in the Rückrunde and has 11 goals altogether this season. He’s therefore Leverkusen’s top goalscorer and also has seven assists to his name. Volland started his career at TSG 1899 Hoffenheim and made the move to Leverkusen in summer 2017.
The officials: Deniz Aytekin will referee the game. The last game Werder game that Aytekin took charge of was the 3-1 win against Wolfsburg last season. The 40-year-old will have Christian Dietz and Eduard Beitlinger as his assistants. The fourth official is Christian Leicher and the video assistant referees are Günter Perl and Patrick Alt.