Matthew Marshall –
Werder v Schalke – Weserstadion, Bremen — Werder Bremen beat Schalke 4-2 in an exciting Bundesliga clash at the Weserstadion. Breel Embolo scored twice for the visitors but it wasn’t enough as Milot Rashica brace and Max Kruse penalty was finished off with a sweet Martin Harnik strike in added time.
The win keeps Werder in contention for the UEFA Europa League while Domenico Tedesco’s reign as Schalke manager is nearing the end.
Werder v Schalke
8 March 2019, Weserstadion
Werder v Schalke Goals: 0-1 (Embolo, 26′), 1-1 (Rashica, 31), 2-1 (Kruse, 51′ PK), 3-1 (Rashica, 73′), 3-2 (Embolo, 85′), 4-2 (Harnik, 94′)
Main Man Max
It’s no secret that Max Kruse is the heartbeat of Werder Bremen, but tonight he provided another example of his exceptional footballing ability. Continually finding space in the hole, he combined well with Ludwig Augustinsson on a number of occasions before sending in a cross that was converted by Rachica who made it 1-1.
Kruse was brought down by Daniel Caligiuri in the box, and the 30-year-old made no mistake from the resulting penalty. He continued to bring his teammates into the contest which resulted in chances for Claudio Pizarro and Max Eggestein.
Popping up all over the pitch and continually creating havoc, a Kruse cross resulted in Rashica making it 3-1. Eggestein then sent Kruse through on goal with Alexander Nübel making a great save. Kruse was playing on a different level to the other 21 players on the pitch, pumping up the crowd and carrying the team on his shoulders.
Rachica was full of praise for his captain after the match, saying: “He tries to control the game in the midfield, you don’t have to think twice when he has the ball, you just need to make the run and he will play the ball there. He is critical as a player and a captain, we are playing well together so let’s hope we continue like this.”
Rachica on fire
Milot Rachica has stepped up to the plate in 2019 and provided Florian Kohfelt with a consistent option up front. He showed good anticipation to score the equaliser and composure to cut inside and take his time before making it 3-1.
The 22-year-old Kosovo international has had to be patient since Werder paid Vitesse €7 million for his services in January 2018. Consistent playing time and a change of position has helped him individually and the team collectively.
Futbolgrad.com asked Rashica how he has adapted to a central attacking position after playing primarily as a right winger at Vitesse. “Last games I played like a second striker. Claudio starting in front is better for me so I can use my speed behind the opponents.”
Kruse and Rashica were the standout players, but there were a number other strong performances from the hosts. Jiri Pavlenka made some key saves despite conceding twice, and Milos Veljkovic was sturdy in central defence.
Max Eggestein and Davy Klaassen are showing continual improvement and add the flair in midfield either side of Philipp Bargfrede. Two substitutes combined to put the icing on the cake as Kevin Möhwald sent Martin Harnik through who finished from a tight angle.
Rashica praised the team performance after the match, saying “We started well and we had a lot of chances, at the end we scored four goals, and everyone helped each other, we ran a lot and it the end it worked.” It’s this type of teamwork that will be required if Werder can fight off some challengers and sneak into the top six.
Breel is back!
Breel Embolo got his first start for Schalke since 11 November and was heavily involved early on, capitalising on an Augustinsson mistake to provide a chance for Burgstaller. Embolo’s persistence paid off as he raced onto Weston McKennie’s header and produced a smart left-footed shot past Pavlenka to give Schalke an early lead.
Much was expected after Schalke shelled out FC Basel €26.5 million for Embolo in July 2016 but the youngster has had a horror run with injuries. He showed his class tonight and can only get better by with consistent game time.
Tedesco remains under pressure
Under pressure Schalke manager Domenico Tedesco had to make changes after the 4-0 home drubbing against Fortuna Dusseldorf. The latest throw of the dice saw Salif Sané, Hamza Mendyl, Amine Harit and Mark Uth dropped with Bastian Oczipka and Weston McKennie returning from injury.
Tedesco switched to a 4-3-3 formation with Breel Embolo and Steven Skrzybski starting alongside Guido ‘the pest’ Burgstaller in the attack. Mendyl, Harit and Uth were not even in the matchday squad as 35-year-old right-back Sascha Riether earned a spot on the bench having last played in May 2017.
It’s almost as if Schalke have to learn a new formation and tactics every week. In a sign of pure desperation from the under-fire manager, Tedesco introduced Sané for Daniel Caligiuri, who broke his leg and had to be taken off, in the final minutes and threw the big defender up front.
Schalke’s best chances came from set pieces and his team looked in continual disarray for much of the match. He has had excuses and deserves praise for last season’s second-place finish but his time is well and truly up.
Although the result have not been in his favour, for now, he continues to have the backing of Schalke’s board with new sporting director Jochen Schneider publically stating after the game that the club would like to continue to work with the head coach.
Werder v Schalke – Lineups
Pavlenka – Augustinsson, Moisander, Veljković, Gebre Selassie – Klaassen, Bargfrede, M. Eggestein – Rashica (Bartels, 84′), M. Kruse (Möhwald, 90′), Pizarro (Harnik, 67′)
Coach: Florian Kohfeldt
FC Schalke 04
Nübel – Nastasić, Stambouli, Bruma – Oczipka, Bentaleb (Kutucu, 73′), McKennie, D. Caligiuri (S. Sané, 87′) – Skrzybski (Matondo, 79′) – Burgstaller, Embolo
Coach: Domenico Tedesco
Matthew Marshall is a freelance football journalist. Born in Australia and living in Germany, he is sports mad but his passion is undoubtedly the beautiful game. Primarily covering the Bundesliga and the Portuguese national team, he follows all the major European domestic leagues intently alongside both UEFA club competitions. A member of the International Sports Press Association (AIPS). Follow Matthew Marshall on Twitter @noobzcorp