Only one team has showed up in the recent meetings between Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen over the last two years, and it was not the team in green. The Rekordmeister have averaged six goals per match against Bremen in their last four matches, outscoring the Grün-Weißen 24-3.
Bayern's last trip to Bremen was their most successful ever, handing Bremen their worst loss in the Weserstadion ever, but that team may not exist anymore. That team has ground through a rough transition, but their Rückrunde performance may have broken the club through the surface. As they distance themselves from the relegation zone, they are now proving to the top teams they are back in business.
Having lost 0-6 to Bayern earlier this season, Bremen will now have to prove that to the defending Bundesliga champions, who have wrecked the Bundesliga in recent weeks. Both teams will have key absences heading into this match, which will level the playing field for a fascinating match between these two longtime rivals.
The Match (108th Meeting)
Location: Weserstadion, Bremen, Germany
Head: Thorsten Kinhöfer
FC Bayern: 31 W, 8 D, 8 L – 78 YC, 1 Y/R, 3 RC
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Bayern Munich (6-0) SV Werder Bremen | Bundesliga (Allianz Arena)
FCB: Lahm (20', 79'), Alonso (27'), Thomas Müller (P 43'), Mario Götze (45', 86')
Bundesliga: 45 W, 25 D, 26 L
DFB Pokal: 5 W, 0 D, 1 L
DFL Supercup: 1 W, 0 L
Ligapokal: 3 W, 1 L
Largest Victory: 7-0 (Bundesliga: August 12, 1980, Munich; December 7, 2013, Bremen)
Largest Defeat: 2-5 (Bundesliga: September 20, 2008, Munich)
Bayern had yet another impressive second-leg victory in the UEFA Champions League at midweek, but that match came at a big price them in the short-term. Arguably their two most dynamic attackers, Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben, both left the match with injuries, and will not be available for selection this weekend.
A month or two ago, their absence would have been a pickle for Pep Guardiola, especially with Xabi Alonso facing another suspension this week. Fortunately for the gaffer, his midfield depth has nearly come back to full health. The downside is Bayern are forced to have more conservative personnel on the field, limiting the chance for a free-moving, overbearing attack.
Part of that conservative approach will be resorting back to a back four, something Bayern may have to do anyways with the three-attacker system Bremen deploys. Bayern are bound to win more balls in midfield, and Schweinsteiger is the one that will be largely responsible for figuring out what happens after they win the ball. Alaba's exuberance to push the ball forward will be a valuable asset with the amount of space Bremen will inevitably surrender.
Bayern face a tougher match than they probably expected when the Bundesliga recommenced, and with the midweek off, there is no reason to hold anything in reserve.
Projected Lineup (4-3-3):
Mario Götze – Robert Lewandowski – Thomas Müller
David Alaba – Bastian Schweinsteiger – Sebastian Rode
Juan Bernat – Holger Badstuber – Jérôme Boateng – Rafinha
Bench: Tom Starke, Medhi Benatia, Dante, Philipp Lahm, Mitchell Weiser, Sinan Kurt, Patrick Weihrauch
Out/Suspended: Xabi Alonso (yellow card), Gianluca Gaudino (muscle issues), Javi Martínez (knee), Claudio Pizarro (muscle issues), Franck Ribéry (ankle), Arjen Robben (back), Thiago Alcântara (knee)
Werder Bremen are the zombies of the Bundesliga, springing back to life after showing a faint pulse back in the fall. Viktor Skrypnyk has put the memory of Robin Dutt successfully in the wastebasket, showing Germany reserve coaches they can succeed in the top flight.
Skrypnyk has actually not changed much with Bremen, but there seems to be more a belief when the Grün-Weißer take the field. Their attacking pair moves with more intent, Skrypnyk getting the most out of David Selke and Fin Bartels up top. Zlatko Junuzović has sustained a strong breakout campaign, and he could be developing in to Bremen's first midfield star since Mesut Özil.
The major absence for them will be Franco Di Santo, the Argentinian striker that is the best striker in Germany since the Bundesliga recommenced. Serving a yellow-card suspension, his relentlessness and supreme strikes will not be on display, sucking some air out of Bremen's potent attack.
Jannik Vestergaard has been a godsend for Skrypnyk in defense, but the back is still fragile. The personnel is thin with several injuries, Philipp Bargfrede does not provide enough of a cushion in the center. Bremen have slid by relying on their attack, but that cannot be the primary gameplan against the best defense in the Bundesliga.
Bremen will have one of the bigger crowd backings they have seen in recent seasons, but they will once again have to perform above what people expect in order to come out on top for a second consecutive week.
Projected Lineup (4-3-1-2):
David Selke – Fin Bartels
Zlatko Junuzović – Philipp Bargfrede – Clemens Fritz
Santiago Garcia – Jannik Vestergaard – Sebastian Prödl – Theodor Gebre Selassie
Bench: Koen Casteels, Luca Caldirola, Janek Sternberg, Izet Hajrović, Felix Kroos, Levent Ayçiçek, Cedric Makiadi
Out/Suspended: Franco Di Santo (yellow card), Alejandro Galvez (ankle), Melvyn Lorenzen (knee), Assani Lukimya (illness), Julian von Haacke (knee), Özkan Yildrim (groin)
Werder Bremen has come a long way, but they are still a mid table side with the worst defensive record in the Bundesliga. Their inability to keep the ball will put a lot of pressure on a stiffer but still frail defense, and Juan Bernat and Rafinha will provide a lot of pressure on the flanks. Bremen may be able to sneak one past the defending champions, but they will concede a lot more to the ever-potent Bayern attack.
Projected Score: SV Werder Bremen (1-4) Bayern Munich
The Other Action
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs. VfB Stuttgart (Friday, 3:30 PM ET)
FC Augsburg vs. 1. FSV Mainz 05 (Saturday, 10:30 AM ET)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Hamburger SV (Saturday, 10:30 AM ET)
Hertha Berliner SC vs. FC Schalke 04 (Saturday, 10:30 AM ET)
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. SC Paderborn 07 (Saturday, 10:30 AM ET)
Borussia Dortmund vs. 1. FC Köln (Saturday, 1:30 PM ET)
VfL Wolfsburg vs. SC Freiburg (Sunday, 10:30 AM ET)
Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Hannover 96 (Sunday, 12:30 PM ET)
|Bayer 04 Leverkusen||10||9||5||40||29||+11||39|
|FC Schalke 04||11||5||8||35||28||+7||38|
|TSG 1899 Hoffenheim||9||6||9||37||38||-1||33|
|SV Werder Bremen||9||6||9||40||49||-9||33|
|1. FC Köln||7||7||10||25||31||-6||28|
|1. FSV Mainz 05||5||11||8||32||35||-3||26|
|Hertha Berliner SC||7||4||13||28||42||-14||25|
|SC Paderborn 07||5||8||11||23||46||-23||23|