Preview: Werder Bremen – FC Bayern

Scouting report and experts' predictions


Werder Bremen is expected to play courageously on Saturday. They certainly have noticed FC Bayern’s performance in the second half of the opener and Alexander Nouri likes to prepare his team with a plan towards his opponents.

We try to predict Nouri’s approach but will it be enough to endanger FC Bayern on the second matchday of the season?

Scouting report

In the game against Hoffenheim, Werder played in a certain style that could work out on Saturday. They only had 37% possession, 75% successful passes, but won more duels than their opponent. They also had 11 shots, which is only three less than the team of Julian Nagelsmann (14).

Regarding their defence, they tried to stay compact but did not act afraid or too far back in their own half. The biggest difference between both teams was the possession.

Their formation changed depending on the respective situation on the field. Most of the times they played in a 5-2-3 formation, which changed to a 3-4-3 or 3-1-4-2 in possession, while defensively a 5-3-2 was the preferred solution.

Both wingbacks tried to put pressure on Hoffenheim, if the ball appeared on their side. At any given opportunity, Bartels, Kruse and Kainz, also pressed the opponent early up the field, while Delaney and Eggestein provided security from central midfield.

Those positions mentioned above will be key against FC Bayern, no matter who exactly plays there. It is likely that Werder tries to copy Bayer Leverkusen’s approach in midfield. FC Bayern struggled heavily after the shifting to 3-4-3 of the opponent. One of the biggest problems appeared to be in the centre. Rudy, Tolisso and Vidal did not manage to outnumber the opponent in build-up-play, or create safe passing options. Either, they were standing too close together, too far apart or behind the pressing line of Bayer Leverkusen.

Bayern were outnumbered against Leverkusen too often.
(Image: Maja Hitij / Bongarts / Getty Images)

As a consequence FC Bayern’s defence rarely was able to handle the pressure, which resulted in rash clearances back to Bayer 04. With that not only possession, but the control of the game, shifted as well. With a more deadly striker, they could have won the game.

Werder Bremen needs to force FC Bayern to play those long balls by closing down the midfield or by creating pressing-traps. They won’t be pressuring high up the field but a midfield-pressing, which can be shifted forward, if necessary, is conceivable. However most of the time they will stay back, trying to counter their opponent.

Considering all of the above, there are three tasks for FC Bayern to solve in the game on Saturday.

1. More movement in midfield

The average positioning of Rudy, Tolisso and Vidal shows that they played in a straight line most of the times. In the first half this worked quite well due to the lack of pressure by Leverkusen. It will be Rudy’s task to take on responsibility and to give instructions to Vidal and Tolisso. Vidal often acted way too uncoordinated and Tolisso had to secure Kimmich’s attacks on the wings. As a result the room, Rudy had to cover, became too big.

In this set-up, he is the playmaker and has to learn to adapt to changing situations. Towards the end of the game last Friday, it got better again.

Bayern’s midfield line musn’t be static. There are a lot of ways to create space. Under one condition: everyone has to move more. Central midfield needs to be more creative.

Games are decided in midfield. Süle and Kimmich failed too many times to play trough the opponent’s attackers, because there were no opportunities. To heavily depend on Mats Hummels, who finds teammates even in those situations, seems to be quite risky.

Against Werder Bremen the midfielders need to move, shift and run all the time, to avoid pressure by the opponent. Creating triangles in build-up play will be necessary as well. They need to show Werder, that their pressing approach has no effect, which makes it more likely for them to want to stay back.

Hoffenheim managed to open up spaces with runs all over the field. Diagonal shifting of the defensive midfielder and wingbacks moving into the centre is only one way of doing so. FC Bayern will be clever enough to find suitable solutions. The aim should be not to get outnumbered in pressing situations. Especially without Thiago, who can provide structure, but unfortunately is unlikely to play on Saturday.

2. Defend as a team, attack as a team.

It is hard to predict, if fitness was a factor or other issues caused struggle for FC Bayern in the last game. However, the team broke with on-going play time. Staying compact is very important, especially without possession. Leverkusen had too many chances by overloading the half spaces. FC Bayern’s midfield could not cope with the room, so opponents could get themselves in promising situations. It was simply too easy to get between backline and midfield.

Leverkusen crossed runs and shifted frequently to outplay the defence. Marked opponents got free and spaces were opened.

This space needs to be closed, to avoid Kimmich to get into one-on-one duels over and over again. To fix this, not only vision but willingness to run will be key in this season.

In some dangerous counter situations it became obvious, that the squad did not act as a unity. While three players were starting to counter, the rest of the team followed too slowly. After loosing the ball, the attackers more or less did not care, so that there was no counter-pressing approach whatsoever.

3. Intensify counter-pressing

This brings us to task number three. Ancelotti does not like to take risks with his pressing approach and we all know that. However, counter-pressing in general, should not be avoided completely.

In a way this can be seen as the result of solving the other tasks. With more triangles, more structure and more movement in possession, it is likely that the counter-pressing will improve as well.

Overall the team had a few issues, but the first half in general makes us feel exited to see more this season. If the team manages to provide and improve the structure around Kimmich on the right wing, the chances to be victorious in the second game are great.

Variability in passing-play, willingness to run and structure – if FC Bayern manages to improve in those areas, Werder Bremen will have a hard time on Saturday. On the other hand they have the chance to cause some struggle in midfield. The transition from the first to second third of the pitch and how Werder is able to pressure in this area will be key to determine the winner of the game.

Facts and stats

  • At home Werder won 20 times against FC Bayern with 14 draws and 23 wins for the Bavarians.
  • FC Bayern won all of the nine last matchups in Bremen. The last defeat in northern Germany was in 2006 (3-1). Overall the last victory of Werder dates back to 2008 (5-2 in Munich).
  • The last game without any goals between those teams was in 2010. Since then there are 4.3 goals scored on average.
  • Kick-off is on Saturday 15:30 CET.

Experts’ predictions

In this section, an external expert will give their opinion on the game in a couple of sentences and predict the end result. A correct prediction earns them three points, a correct tendency (win, draw, loss) one point. This will be compared to a second prediction, made by Miasanrot’s editorial team. At the end of the season, we will see whether the external experts gained more points than the Miasanrot team.

Tobi earns the first three points of the season by hitting the result spot on. Right now the Miasanrot team leads with 4-2. Kevin Scheuren, expert of the last game, did not get any points with his prediction in favour of Bayer Leverkusen.

This week Christopher is predicting the game against Bremen, trying to extend the lead against Joey.

Joey: Werder will stay back, try to close down the midfield and counter if possible. Defensively they will try to push FC Bayern to the wings and force them to cross, which is unlikely to work out very well. Sooner than later FC Bayern will find a way to get into the half spaces and score the first goal. As a result Werder opens up, has some dangerous attacks but Bayern scores again. Final result: 2-0.

Christopher: Werder has surprised me quite a bit with their defensive approach against Hoffenheim. Most of the time they gave up possession and tried to counter their opponent. I expect them to use similar tactics against FC Bayern. For FC Bayern it will be key to avoid counterattacks, with which they struggled against Leverkusen. In the end FC Bayern can count on the individual quality of their players and wins 2-0.

Translators: Michael & Luca

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