Berlin - SV Werder Bremen will be desperate to exorcise the demons of Matchday 15’s 7-0 mauling at the hands of Bundesliga leaders FC Bayern München when they face Hertha Berlin at the Olympiastadion on Friday (kick-off 20:30 CET).
Early season wins over Eintracht Braunschweig and FC Augsburg proved somewhat of a false dawn for the 14th-placed Grün-Weißen, who now sit just five points above the relegation zone ahead of their trip to the capital.
“They made us look like fools at times,” admitted Bremen defender Clemens Fritz in the wake of the club’s heaviest-ever Bundesliga defeat. “Bayern have dominated in all competitions all year long. We should have known it wouldn’t have been any different. We wanted to be brave and get at them early on. That just didn’t work. When you play Bayern, you need the rub of the green.”
Last weekend’s humbling wasn’t the first time the Weser tide has gone against the struggling Werderaner either. Bremen have won just twice since beating Augsburg on Matchday 2, losing four of their last five outings and conceding a weighty 19 goals in the process. Indeed, only 11th-placed 1899 Hoffenheim have had their lines breached more often this term (35 to Werder’s 34).
'We really went for it'
On a more positive note, Bremen have scored twice as many (ten) as Friday’s hosts in the same period, but unlike Robin Dutt’s faltering charges, Jos Luhukay’s ambitious Hertha look a genuine threat to the top six. With 22 points on the board already this term, a further three in their final home game of the Hinrunde could, temporarily at least, lift them above FC Schalke 04 into sixth.
“I’m looking forward to the game on Friday night,” Luhukay said on Thursday. “It’s the last home game before the winter break, so obviously we want to give our fans something to celebrate. We really went for it in our last match here [with Augsburg]. Overall, we dominated, saw a lot of the ball and gave away few chances, but we now we want to be winning again. […] Hopefully we’ll approach Friday’s game with the same level of self-belief we took to Braunschweig.”
The R and R show
A comfortable afternoon’s work in the battle between last season’s promoted duo, Sunday’s win over the Lions nevertheless got the better of Johannes van den Bergh, who looks set to miss out against Bremen owing to a troublesome thigh strain. Levan Kobiashvilli will likely fill the void at left back, while Ben Sahar is expected to join up with the squad for the first time this term after injury.
Given the performances of leading scorer Adrian Ramos and fan favourite Ronny in Braunschweig, however, the Israeli striker might have to wait a while longer before returning to the hallowed turf of Berlin's historic abode. “They gave us a lot to cheer about,” recalled Luhukay. “It’s a good omen for the Bremen game.”
Hertha: Kraft - Pekarik, Lustenberger, Brooks, Kobiashvili - Cigerci, Hosogai - Skjelbred, Ronny, N. Schulz - Ramos
Bremen: Wolf - Fritz, Lukimya, Caldirola, Garcia - Bargfrede, Makiadi - Elia, Hunt, Ekici - Petersen