Belek - With a successful winter training camp in Belek, Turkey, behind them, SV Werder Bremen are briefed and ready to lay it on the line in their 2014/15 Bundesliga survival mission, one not of the impossible variety.
On the club's 13th visit to the Turkish Riviera, head coach Viktor Skripnik saw his charges pick up three wins from a possible three, including a come-from-behind victory over fellow top-flight outfit Borussia Mönchengladbach. If their results during the eight-day stay are anything to go by, Bremen have it all to play for in the second half of the season.
Boosting friendly results
The 3-2 win over the Foals followed the defeats of FC Energie Cottbus of the German third-tier and Al-Fujairah SC, a team from the United Arab Emirates, both of which were played on the same day. The Green-Whites weren’t short of opportunities to stretch their legs though, with attaining both match fitness and sharpness high on the priority list.
“I can only congratulate my team,” resumed Skripnik, who had more warm words after the Gladbach victory. “We kept pushing forward even when things didn’t always come off. At the end of the day we can leave in positive spirits.” With a potentially punishing Rückrunde ahead, Skripnik’s claim that “[the camp] was great for our self belief”, should not be undervalued in importance.
Youth experiment paying off
Neither should the youngsters that the former Bremen left-back has opened doors for since taking over from Robin Dutt last October. Winter capture Levin Öztunali is keen to prove a point whilst on loan from Bayer 04 Leverkusen, with his fellow Under-19 European Champion Davie Selke one of a handful of youth stars making the step up to senior level as a collective. While the Selke, who burst on the Bundesliga scene towards the end of the first half of the campaign, believes their familiarity with each other is “a huge advantage”, the 19-year-old striker was also quick to point out that Bremen “need a few experienced players too. It’s about finding the right mix.”
Werder’s woes behind them?
Werder had just four points to their name after going their first nine games of the season without a win, but have picked up 13 points from a possible 24 since Skripnik's installation. Only FC Bayern München, VfL Wolfsburg, FC Schalke 04 and FC Augsburg boasted better form in the same timespan, throwing sharp relief on just how impressive that was for a side languishing near the foot of the table. “Under Viktor Skripnik we’ve collected enough points to cut it in this league,” concluded club chairman Marco Bode. The 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Matchday 17 left Bremen sitting in 16th place and now, with top goalscorer Franco Di Santo nearing a return and a morale-boosting trip to Belek under their belt, Werder have reason enough to feel positive about their chances in 2015.