Werder Bremen looked set for a dismal season. Not only had their star of last season left for Real Madrid, but they had numerous injury problems and results weren’t going their way.
With only one Bundesliga win to their name, Thomas Schaaf’s team must have been dreading the visit of Hamburg to the Weserstadion. However, in a thrilling contest, Bremen came out on top, but they certainly made hard work of it.
Werder couldn’t have dreamt of a better start when Marko Marin’s deflected shot looped over Hamburg goalkeeper Frank Rost and ended up in the net. This season is an important one for Marin, who has become Bremen’s biggest offensive threat. Although very skillful, Marin is still young, and his small frame means he is often pushed around very easily.
It was a pulsating game as Hamburg went searching for the equalizer, with Ruud van Nistelrooy looking their most dangerous threat. Out of nothing, Bremen had somehow doubled their lead. A free-kick was played into the box from Aaron Hunt, and nobody picked up Hugo Almeida, whose bullet of a header left Rost with no chance.
Things couldn’t have been better for Die Grün-Weißen, but the momentum suddenly changed after the break. Although Per Mertesacker had returned for Bremen, he was wearing a face mask after fracturing his eye socket for Germany against Azerbaijan. Mertesacker was instrumental in Bremen’s victory, but there was nothing he or the rest of the Bremen defense could do to stop Hamburg’s resurgence.
Marcell Jansen forced a great save from Tim Wisse, but van Nistelrooy’s backheel bobbled over the line despite a last-ditch attempt by Mertesacker. Three minutes later, substitute Jonathan Pitroipa hit a bullet from the edge of the box to tie the score. It looked like Hamburg would take all three points as they began to dominate. However, with five minutes left, Almeida scored a tap in after a perfect cross from Wesley. Mertesacker denied van Nistelrooy from equalizing with a dramatic late block as Bremen took their second win of the season.
Bremen weren’t able to dominate against a strong Hamburg team. In fact, for large parts of the game they were second best. However, the Bundesliga is extremely competitive this season, and getting three points against one of the league’s strongest sides will give them hope.
Werder do not spend a lot in the transfer market compared to their rivals. This is coupled with their best players leaving without really being replaced. Diego jumped ship to Juventus last summer, and Mesut Ozil left for Madrid this season. Ozil took over from Diego as Bremen’s creative threat. However, it is yet to be seen whether Marko Marin can fill the void left by Ozil.
Marin was part of Germany’s World Cup squad, but wasn’t really given a chance to shine in such a talented German team. He is extremely skillful on the ball, and has a similar style to Lionel Messi. Marin is joined in midfield by Aaron Hunt, a quick winger with a bright future ahead of him. Bremen do have some experience in midfield through captain Torsten Frings, but Bremen really lack strength in depth.
Schalke, Bayern, Leverkusen, Dortmund and Hamburg all have strong squads. Bremen’s starting eleven is strong, when they are all fit, but splashing out in the transfer market gives you a strong squad. Bremen may be up and running with this well-deserved win, but it is going to be a long season. Momentum will be key to any success for Werder, and lots of pressure will be on Marin and Hunt. Hopefully for Bremen, their young shoulders can take the load.