Werder Bremen have made a strong start to life back in the Bundesliga, led by the goals of new Germany international Niclas Füllkrug.
The story so far
Bremen returned to the Bundesliga after a year’s absence as runners-up in the second division behind Schalke, but the Green-Whites have left the Royal Blues in their wake back in the big time. Ole Werner’s side began with back-to-back 2-2 draws before a truly incredible win at Borussia Dortmund (see below). That was then followed by a 4-3 loss at home to Eintracht Frankfurt as Bremen cemented their position as one of the Bundesliga’s most entertaining sides, even if consistency is probably what those in charge would prefer.
Only four teams have scored more than their 25 goals, while only Bayern Munich and Frankfurt matches have produced a greater number of goals than Werder’s 52 in 15. They have also established themselves as the late-goal experts, with 11 after the 76th minute (accounting for 44 per cent of their total) and five beyond the 90th – both the most of any team in the division.
Die Grünweißen have been marginally better on the road, with their only losses in seven away outings coming at the top two of Freiburg and Bayern. The latter – a 6-1 thumping in Munich – was their heaviest defeat under Werner and preceded a 2-1 loss at home to RB Leipzig to finish out the year on a bit of a low, but there can be few complaints about how their Bundesliga return has gone as they head into 2023 in ninth place. They are closer to the top four (six points) than the bottom three (seven).
Key player: Niclas Füllkrug
Werder have had a very consistent team in terms of selection since Werner took over last winter, but an undisputed star has emerged in Füllkrug. With 10 goals from 14 appearances, he’s second only to Christopher Nkunku in the Bundesliga scoring stakes and is the top German marksman across any of Europe’s top divisions. Two Player of the Month awards, voted for by fans, prove just how much of an impact the 29-year-old has made both for Bremen and on the Bundesliga in general this season. And he has now underlined his status as Germany’s top centre-forward with his cameo performances at the 2022 World Cup.
Watch: All 10 of Füllkrug’s Bundesliga goals this season
Six wins out of 15 games has given Bremen supporters plenty to cheer about, but none will ever forget their victory in Dortmund. Having gone 2-0 down after 77 minutes, the Werder goose looked cooked and even the most devout believers probably struggled to imagine snatching a point. But all three? Well, Werder had never scored three goals after the 89th minute of a Bundesliga game, BVB had never conceded three after that point, and no team had ever lost a Bundesliga fixture when leading by two going into the 89th minute. Up stepped Lee Buchanan (89’), Niklas Schmidt (90’+3) and Oliver Burke (90’+5) to tear up all those records and claim a truly historic, unbelievable win.
Watch: Borussia Dortmund 2-3 Werder Bremen – highlights
One to watch: Mitchell Weiser
Weiser may have three Bundesliga titles, a DFB Cup and FIFA Club World Cup medal in his collection from his time at Bayern, and is an U21 European champion with Germany, but you hardly would’ve called the 28-year-old a standout Bundesliga player. After spells at Kaiserslautern, Hertha Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen, he joined Bremen on loan last season and made the move permanent in the summer. The right-back has now found his stride in the division and is the defender with the most assists this season (six – the same amount as Jamal Musiala), playing in a wing-back role. He ranks third in the division for sprints and fourth for challenges won, and will be just as crucial to Bremen’s fortunes as Füllkrug in 2023.
View from the camp
“The boys have shown great performances and morale, and have deservedly earned those 21 points. The team can be proud of what they’ve achieved this year with great football and passion. [However], we know from experience that we need to push till the end and are only safe when it says so on paper. We’ve now got a long break where we can recover. After that, I’m optimistic that we’ll achieve our goal of remaining in this division.” - Bremen sporting director Frank Baumann
Key fixtures in 2023
- Cologne (a), 21 January
- Borussia Dortmund (h), 11 February
- Schalke (a), weekend of 29 April
- Bayern Munich (h), weekend of 6 May
- Union Berlin (a), 27 May
Watch: The Bundesliga is back!
All 2022/23 season reviews:
Augsburg | Bayer Leverkusen | Bayern Munich | Bochum | Borussia Dortmund | Borussia Mönchengladbach | Cologne | Eintracht Frankfurt | Freiburg | Hertha Berlin | Hoffenheim | Mainz | RB Leipzig | Schalke | Union Berlin | VfB Stuttgart | Wolfsburg
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