Werder vs Bayer Leverkusen – Saturday, October 28, 17:00BST/18:00 CEST – Weserstadion, Bremen, Germany
Werder are flying after beating Schalke 2-0 on matchday 8. With 17 points from the first eight games, Werder Bremen have cemented their place in the top four. The result from last week underlines the ambitions by die Werderaner to return to Europe next season.
“After beating Schalke we can now keep a distance to another side that from the strength of their squad should be ranked in the top six,” Maximilian Eggestein told the press this week. Recent results have given Werder confidence. Last May a 0-0 draw against Bayer was considered a success, now, however, there is a sense among Bremen’s players that they can keep pace with the big boys in the league.
“We now have a nice home game and if we win that we have 20 points after nine Bundesliga games,” Max Kruse told the German station ZDF after last week’s triumph in the Topspiel over Schalke.
That confidence seems certainly justified in Bremen’s camp and is underfed by Bayer Leverkusen’s poor results in Bundesliga. Leverkusen are currently just 13th in the Bundesliga standings with just eight points from eight games despite having one of the most talented squads in the league.
As a result, head coach Heiko Herrlich has now come under fire. Media reports in Germany suggested that the club had already been in contact with former RB Leipzig head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl last month. The Austrian, however, has told the club that he does not want to end his sabbatical at this point.
Whether that will save Herrlich in the medium, or even, short-term is doubtful, however. Bayer lost their midweek game against Zürich in the Europa League, which will add only more pressure on Leverkusen’s head coach.
The Europa League has been Bayer’s saving grace this season. Die Werkself won their opening games against Ludogorets as well as AEK Larnaca and seemed to be on good course in that competition. Thursday’s defeat against Zürich, however, highlighted all of Leverkusen’s problems at the moment.
Down by one goal after the first half Bayer turned that result around thanks to two Karim Bellarabi goals in the second half. But lack of focus and defensive problems meant that Zürich were able to walk away with a 3-2 victory after all.
Hence, the game against Werder will be a must-win scenario for Heiko Herrlich. But it seems doubtful that Bayer will be able to turn things around against a Werder side that is flying high at the moment.
Werder vs Bayer Leverkusen – Players to look out for:
Maximilian Eggestein #35 – Werder Bremen
Maxi Eggestein is on fire at the moment. Considered to slow to become a Bundesliga player just a year ago the midfielder has undergone an amazing development in the last few months under head coach Kohfeldt. After working hard on his athleticism, the 21-year-old has now scored four goals in eight Bundesliga games this season and is considered one of the brightest midfield prospects in Germany at the moment.
Karim Bellarabi #38 – Bayer Leverkusen
Karim Bellarabi’s performance against Zürich was the only positive from a poor Bayer Leverkusen performance. The winger scored two goals and was a constant thread for FCZ‘s backline. The 28-year-old also salvaged a point for Bayer last week against Hannover and had shown an uptick in his form ever since his red card foul against Rafinha that earned him plenty of criticism in the German press.
Werder vs Bayer Leverkusen – Match Stats
- Werder have scored in the last nine games. The last time they were kept of the scoresheet? Last season on matchday 33 against Bayer Leverkusen (0-0).
- Claudio Pizarro scored his last Bundesliga goal one year ago against Bayer Leverkusen (1-1). The goal ended a goalless drought of 858 minutes, he currently is without a goal in 570 minutes.
- Bremen’s record at home against Bayer is: W17 D16 L5.
Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Werder vs Bayer Leverkusen – 3-1
Werder vs Bayer Leverkusen – Lineups
Pavlenka – Gebre Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Augustinsson – Klaassen, Sahin, M. Eggestein – Osako, Kruse, Kainz
Head Coach: Florian Kohfeldt
Hradecky – Weiser, Tah, S. Bender, Wendell – Kohr, L. Bender – Bellarabi, Havertz, Brandt – Volland
Head Coach: Heiko Herrlich
Manuel Veth is the owner and Editor in Chief of the Futbolgrad Network. He also works as a freelance journalist and among others works for the Bundesliga and Pro Soccer USA. He holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which is available HERE. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.