Werder Bremen 0-1 Wolfsburg

Posted on April 29, 2011

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VFL WOLFSBURG moved out of the relegation positions following Sascha Reither’s 22nd minute goal in a 1-0 victory over Werder Bremen in the Weserstadion.

After a crucial 3-1 win over St Pauli, which effectively secured Werder Bremen’s place in the Bundesliga next season, Thomas Schaaf made just the one change to the starting line-up with enigmatic striker Marco Arnautovic replacing Sandro Wagner in a front-three alongside Claudio Pizarro and Marko Marin.

Bremen lined-up with the usual defensive six of Tim Wiese in goal; Mickael Silvestre, Petri Pasanen, Per Mertesacker, Clemens Fritz and Thorsten Frings as the holding midfielder. The full-backs, Fritz and Silvestre, do not offer much of an attacking threat and mainly on their defensive responsibilites as Marin and Arnautovic will not fall back to offer support to the full-backs.

The front-three of Werder Bremen is very fluid, and despite Pizarro being an ‘out-and-out’ striker, he is comfortable in playing out on either flank which he does if Arnautovic or Marin move centrally.

Schaaf’s men are on a very strong run of form at an important time of the season and Bremen have not lost in seven Bundesliga matches. However, four draws in that period have thwarted any late rise up the table.

Wolfsburg secured their first win since the end of February last week with a thumping 4-1 win over FC Koln. Felix Magath has assembled four points from three games and can still move out of the relegation positions with just 2 points separating them and Frankfurt.

Unsurprisingly, Magath kept the same team that ran out comfortable winners in the Volkswagen Arena last weekend where Mario Mandzukic and Ashkan Dejagah netting a double each.

Wolfsburg lined up in a 4-3-1-2 formation with former Werder Bremen star Diego starting against his former club, supporting the front-two of Grafite and Mario Mandzukic. Despite making 28 starts for Wolfsburg since his £15m move from Juventus in the summer, Diego has struggled to make an impact for Die Wölfe but showed his ability last week with a sublime performance in the 4-1 win over FC Koln.

Bremen v Wolfsburg: 90 Minutes

Werder Bremen started well and forced Diego Benaglio into a decent stop on just nine minutes when Thorsten Frings’ sweeping right-foot effort came through a ruck of players and Benaglio reacted well to parry the ball clear of the goal.

Wolfsburg took a surprise lead on 21 minutes against the run of play when Sascha Riether scored his first goal of the season from close range after Tm Wiese parried Cicero Santos’ effort from the edge of the box straight in to the full-back’s path just a few yards out.

Magath’s relegation battlers looked fairly comfortable up until half-time despite not dominating possession at any point in the game. Werder Bremen lacked width and guile with the front-three regularly making the same runs as each other.

Bremen were eager to start well in the second half and had an early effort from Thorsten Frings which was easily collected by Benaglio.

Brazilian striker Grafite had a good start to the second half and was inches away from doubling Wolfsburg’s lead on 57 minutes when the visitors unleashed a quick counter-attack with Mandzukic laying-off for Diego, who dummied the ball well on the edge of the box, and Grafite’s curling left-foot shot was just past the far post.

Wolfsburg were causing Bremen a number of problems on the break and captain Marcel Shafer popped up at the back post in acres of space and dragged his header wide of the far post.

The game was becoming increasingly stretched and both teams took the opportunity to make a few substitutions with Bremen introducing Aaron Hunt to provide creativity from midfield, something which was lacking with 22-year-old Phillip Bargfrede on the left-hand side.

But Bremen could not break down the stubborn Wolfsburg backline and Felix Magath’s side held on for a massive three points that takes them out of the relegation zone and puts Eintracht Frankfurt in to a relegation play-off position.

Bremen: Lacking width and creativity from midfield

A huge problem with having three centre-halves in a back-four is that you will struggle to commit your full-backs forward to good effect.

Silvestre and Fritz will never be “attacking” full-backs but to be fair, they did try to get forward on whatever occasion they could. However, both lacked the positional sense to do that effectively and Wolfsburg nipped in behind Fritz on the attack to score the only goal of the game.

It was clear that Bremen were relying on Marin, Pizarro and Arnautovic to provide any creativity or craft as there was a real lack of it from wide areas and from midfield.

In midfield, Thorsten Frings holds his defensive position very well to allow midfielders to push forward, but neither Bargfrede or Wagner offered much support to the front-three.

And as for the front-three themselves, there did not seem to be much thinking between them as they continuously drifted into the same positions and made the same runs. Why on earth is Claudio Pizarro having to drift out on the left for large spells of the game?I find that just bizarre to be honest.

Wolfsburg: Quick on the break

Felix Magath has had a positive impact in most of his managerial spells around German clubs and he is beginning to assert himself on the current Wolfsburg squad which has been fighting a relegation battle this season.

Wolfsburg held on to move into 15th position tonight and put in a very organised shift with their biggest threat coming on the break.

Die Wölfe were content with keeping their front-two in attacking positions at all times but Diego had a very crucial role in linking midfield to attack for Wolfsburg. Diego was fantastic for Werder Bremen in that role and looked his old-self for the majority of the match tonight.

Werder Bremen dominated possession for almost the entire 90 minutes and a reflection of Magath’s impact on Wolfsburg is that they were comfortable absorbing pressure for good periods of the game.

As Bremen pushed men forward, Wolfsburg were quick to get forward and their goal was a decent break as well as terrible defending from Thomas Schaaf’s side. Sascha Riether popped up just a few yards out to round-off the attack involving Schafer, Diego and Cicero Santos.

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Posted in: Matches