A one-year absence has whetted the appetite for the latest meeting of Borussia Dortmund and Werder Bremen, with two of the Bundesliga's giants and founder members putting respective unbeaten starts to the 2022/23 campaign on the line at Signal Iduna Park this Saturday.
They've been around since the very beginning of the Bundesliga, facing off no fewer than 106 times and collecting a combined total of nine top-flight titles. Their club legends are almost too many to mention, from Jürgen Kohler to Rudi Voller, Miroslav Klose to Matthias Sammer and dozens more, the teams originally from Oberligas Nord and West have have given the world of football so many stars to savour.
After Bremen's recent promotion back to the big time, these colossal clubs can renew a rivalry that has been missing from the Bundesliga calendar in just six seasons since the division's inception in 1963. The Black-and-Yellows may narrowly trail their visitors on Saturday in terms of seasons in the Bundesliga, with Bremen matching Bayern Munich's league-leading 58 campaigns to Dortmund's 56, but it is the latter who hold the upper hand when it comes to the teams' head-to-head. Edin Terzic's men go into the Matchday 3 game boasting a record of 46 Bundesliga wins to Werder's 41, with the sides playing out 19 draws.
Watch: BVB downed Werder last time out at Signal Iduna Park
It is Borussia, too, who came out on top when the teams last met in North Rhine-Westphalia. On that April day in 2021, the visiting River Islanders enjoyed a fantastic start to the Matchday 29 meeting. Milot Rashica's 14th-minute opener had the Green-Whites ahead in front of the stunned home supporters. Desperately trying to climb back into the top four spots in the Bundesliga, BVB responded through a Gio Reyna equaliser while an Erling Haaland double then put Dortmund in command. Mats Hummels would finish the scoring as the home side breathed a sigh of relief.
Watch: USMNT star Gio Reyna describes his goal against Werder in 2021
Better memories of visits to the wonderful Westfalenstadion for the Bremen faithful came on what was the team's last victory there, a 2-1 triumph for Florian Kohfeldt's team over Peter Bosz's side in December 2017. Maximilian Eggestein and Theodor Gebre Selassie scored either side of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's equaliser while both Werder's assists came from a certain Max Kruse, the man currently enjoying a second stint at Wolfsburg.
With Saturday's classic encounter now upon us, it's worth noting that Borussia have won 12 of the last 14 Bundesliga home games against Werder, but lest we forget, the visitors are currently enjoying a solid away run. Ole Werner's outfit are undefeated on the road since 12 March and boasted the second-best away record in Germany's second tier last term. When you crunch the numbers, it's all set up for a fascinating fixture on Saturday.
"It's a special atmosphere and a special challenge because of the quality of the opponent; you can feel the anticipation and the tension," coach Werner said of the occasion. His counterpart, Terzic, heaped praise on Die Grün-Weißen, labelling them a, "very brave team," who had, "improved significantly in terms of performance and results," under Werner.
Werder defender, Anthony Jung, said of his team's opponents: "They are a big club in Germany who have celebrated many national and international successes. They always play at the top and represent a certain way of playing football. The game in Signal Iduna Park is one to look forward to with all the fans. It's impressive with what force the unity of the supporters create as they roar their team forward."
Over 8,000 visiting Werder fans will join the Borussia legion to create what will be a tremendous atmosphere. According to Werner, the away supporters will need to make themselves heard from the get-go. "In Dortmund, there will [always] be phases of the game in which the quality of the opponent is very apparent; every team in Germany and probably everyone in Europe feels the same way," the coach said. "It's therefore important to stay focused and to know what you want to do as a team."
Interestingly, BVB boss Terzic's first game in charge during his first stint at the club was against Werder and produced a 2-1 victory for the Black-Yellows. Speaking about that result and this weekend's encounter, the 39-year-old said, "You can tell that they want to do better than they did two years ago. They have caused us some trouble on several occasions. Saturday's will be a very interesting game."
Let the BVB - Werder rivalry recommence!
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