Hit the ground running

Fortuna match preview
Nuri Sahin and Co. want to start the season with three points (Photo: nordphoto).
preliminary report
Thursday, 15.08.2019 / 19:02

Werder’s goal for the new season couldn’t be clearer: a return to European football. "In recent years, this longing to return to Europe has been growing," explained head coach Florian Kohfeldt, who narrowly missed out on Europa League qualification last season. "This season, you can sense that the whole team shares this goal." The quest begins this weekend (Saturday, 17.08.19, 15:30 CEST) against Fortuna Düsseldorf, where the Green-Whites will be hoping to start the season with three points.

Squad news: Ludwig Augustinsson missed the DFB-Pokal match against SV Atlas Delmenhorst and had also been ruled out of the Bundesliga opener. "This game comes too soon for Ludde. His leg has reacted to the increased workload. We can’t say exactly how long he will be out for. We need to wait and see; we don’t want to take any risks," said Kohfeldt, who will have a full-strength squad to choose from, excluding the still-injured Bargfrede, Bartels, Langkamp and Veljkovic. Kevin Möhwald, who picked up a knock in Training on Tuesday, is available, as are Claudio Pizarro and Milot Rashica.

Fortuna at high tempo

Ömer Toprak and Niklas Moisander - a perfect CB match? (Photo: nordphoto).

On the game: Fortuna dazzled last season with their incredible counter-attacking style, as Werder know only too well from their last encounter. Friedhelm Funkel’s side caused almost every team problems, and early signs suggest they’ve gotten even better this summer. "Despite losing Lukebakio and Raman, they haven’t lost that high-tempo, and in Rouwen Hennings they have a bullish striker who can hold onto the ball very well," acknowledged Kohfeldt. However, with Niklas Moisander, who the is the 'brains' according to Kohfeldt, and new signing Ömer Toprak, who can pounce on individual mistakes caused by Fortuna’s speed, Werder are perfectly equipped to deal with the opponent’s threat.

On the season opener: It’s been a while since Werder celebrated an opening day win. A 1-0 victory away at Eintracht Braunschweig in 2014/15 seems like an age ago, but Kohfeldt is only thinking about the match ahead. "Both teams need to gauge where they’re at. It’s the first match on an even playing field, there are no favourites." But the coach is feeling positive. "I can sense a mixture of excitement and focus in my team ahead of this match. This gives me a decent dose of optimism," the 36-year-old admitted, before warning "it won’t be a walk in the park. We cannot be naïve."

The last meetings: On matchday 14 last season, Florian Kohfeldt carved out a resounding victory against a stubborn Düsseldorf side. Kevin Möhwald had given Werder the lead, before Dodi Lukebakio levelled going into the break. A long-shot from substitute Johannes Eggestein was parried to the feet of Martin Harnik, who poked the Green-Whites back in front, before Josh Sargent put Fortuna out of sight just two minutes later with his first touch and first Bundesliga goal. Ahead of Saturday’s crunch match, it’s best for the boys to build on this result, rather than dwell on the 4-1 defeat in the reverse fixture in Düsseldorf…