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    Bundesliga Preview: Werder Bremen – Bayern Munich

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    Ali Swaidan
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    Bundesliga Preview: Werder Bremen – Bayern Munich

    Post by Ali Swaidan on Sat Feb 28, 2009 8:15 pm



    This game is usually a top of the table clash, which often helps determine the destination of the title. However, with Bayern Munich in fourth and Werder Bremen in 11th, this game is more a chance for either side to restore some much needed confidence.

    Has The Tide Turned?

    For the first time in recent memory, Bremen recorded an impressive result in Europe. Thursday’s 2-2 draw with Milan at the San Siro put the Germans through to the UEFA Cup round of 16. What’s more, it was a brilliant test of Bremen’s mettle. A week previous, Werder went a goal down before a late Diego strike salvaged a draw.

    Ahead of Thursday’s match at the San Siro, captain Frank Baumann was quoted as saying on the Bundesliga's official website, “We all know that we're in a very difficult situation. Milan are exactly the right opponents now. These are the games you can take confidence from - favourites do not always win."

    This all came shortly before Milan went up 2-0 inside the first 35 minutes, leaving pundits everywhere predicting yet another disappointing European defeat for Bremen. But this time, Claudio Pizarro was part of Werder’s team. A late brace for the Peruvian international earned a draw and Bremen advanced on the away goals rule. What was previously a team in crisis may now be prepared to make a serious run for a Europa League berth.

    Their UEFA Cup success just may be the spark Bremen have been waiting for all season. In isolated instances, Bremen have shown brilliance (a 5-1 hammering of Hertha Berlin comes to mind), however, their inconsistency has been costly.

    Entering Sunday’s match, Werder have lost three of their four league fixtures since the winter break, managing just a single point, which came against lowly Borussia Moenchengladbach. With renewed swagger in their stride, will Werder be able to beat a Bayern team that has similarly slumped in league play? We shall soon see.

    Lisbon Repeat Needed

    Like Bremen, Bayern have struggled lately. Going into the second half of the season, every critic announced that Bayern were fully prepared to take a commanding lead and coast through the final weeks of the season. How wrong they were. Bayern have lost three of four Bundesliga matches since the winter break and only beat Dortmund in the closing minutes of a thrilling match at the Allianz Arena.

    But like Bremen, Bayern have emerged this week in true style, recording a resounding 5-0 victory over Sporting in Lisbon. Frankly, it was about time; Bayern have played dominant football in every game (save the Koeln match last week) since the break, however, they have struggled to score and have been undone by good counterattacking and silly defensive errors.

    Their comprehensive victory in Lisbon was the realisation of everything Bayern have been working towards this year: sustained offensive pressure accompanied by razor-sharp finishing. Their shaky first-half defensive performance was not repeated in the second half, mainly because Bayern had the Portuguese on their heels for the final 45 minutes, punishing the home side again and again with four second half goals.

    On their return to Bundesliga play, Bayern will have to improve their defence. Sporting, being foreign to the German game, were out-muscled and unprepared for the Bayern assault. Bremen are stronger and well acquainted with the Bavarians’ style of play and, after their impressive showing against Milan, will be a very difficult team to beat.

    Sunday’s match is sure to be a treat for fans of these attack-minded teams.

    FORM GUIDE

    Werder Bremen


    26/02/09 AC Milan 2 Bremen 2 (UEFA Cup)
    21/02/09 Energie Cottbus 2 Bremen 1 (Bundesliga)
    18/02/09 Bremen 1 AC Milan 1 (UEFA Cup)
    14/02/09 Bremen 1 Borussia M’Gladbach 1 (Bundesliga)
    07/02/09 Schalke 1 Bremen 0 (Bundesliga)

    Bayern Munich

    25/02/09 Sporting CP 0 Bayern 5 (Champions League)
    21/02/09 Bayern 1 FC Koeln 2 (Bundesliga)
    14/02/09 Hertha Berlin 2 Bayern 1 (Bundesliga)
    08/02/09 Bayern 3 Borussia Dortmund 1 (Bundesliga)
    30/01/09 Hamburger SV 1Bayern 0 (Bundesliga)

    TEAM NEWS

    Werder Bremen

    Tim Wiese is recovering from injury and, after missing the Milan match, may be fit for Sunday’s pivotal match. Aaron Hunt is also on the mend but is unlikely to play as he only recently resumed training. Otherwise, Thomas Schaaf should have a full squad to choose from.

    Probable Starting XI: Wiese – Fritz, Mertesacker, Naldo, Pasanen – Frings, Tziolis, Oezil – Diego – Almeida, Pizarro

    Bayern

    Coach Juergen Klinsmann has proposed to use a rotation in the next few weeks but has declined to reveal any details of his plans. Defenders Massimo Oddo (ankle) and Lucio (eye) are questionable and may be replaced by Christian Lell and Daniel Van Buyten.

    Luca Toni put in a full 90 minutes and scored a brace in Lisbon and appears to be ready to play again against Bremen.

    Probable Starting XI: Rensing – Oddo, Lucio, Demichelis, Lahm – Schweinsteiger, van Bommel, Ze Roberto, Ribery – Toni, Klose

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    Werder Bremen – Claudio Pizarro


    The Peruvian’s performance against Milan in midweek was exemplary of the class he showed while at Bayern: he took eight shots, four of which forced saves from Milan keeper Dida, and two of which found the net. 'Pizza' is only two years removed from Bayern and will want to score against his former club.

    Bayern Munich – Franck Ribery

    Undoubtedly the man of the match against Sporting, Ribery again proved that Bayern’s form is dependent on his productivity. A textbook breakaway and Messi-esque finish at the end of the first half opened the scoring

    PREDICTION

    In my weekly column, I predicted a 2-1 victory for Bayern, based on the fact that, although Bayern were in poor form, Werder were in even worse shape. Then Bremen ousted Milan from the UEFA Cup on Thursday following a truly remarkable performance at the San Siro.

    But Bayern managed a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Sporting in Lisbon. I’d actually rate Bremen’s performance as better than Bayern’s because the Bavarians’ defence looked horrendous for most of the first half. That said, I think Bayern’s offensive mental block is now a thing of the past - they just may run rampant at the Weserstadion.

    Werder Bremen 2-3 Bayern Munich

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