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2019-20 Bundesliga Preview: Werder Bremen

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Can Bremen improve upon last season’s finish?

Werder Bremen presents newcomer Toprak Photo by Carmen Jaspersen/picture alliance via Getty Images

The 2019-20 season is right around the corner, and we here at Fear The Wall believe that you should know about as much as possible about the other teams in the Bundesliga. While we may not be experts on them, that doesn’t mean we can’t do a little research and predict how they’ll do this coming season.

Let’s take a look at Werder Bremen.

Last Season

Bundesliga: 8th place – 53 pts. (14W-11D-9L)

DFB-Pokal: Semi-finals – 2:3 loss to Bayern Munich

If it weren’t for a questionable penalty in Bayern’s favor in the Pokal semifinal, they might have have had their first real shot at a trophy since winning the Pokal in 2009. They also just missed out on qualifying for Europa League, finishing one point behind Frankfurt for the final German Europa League qualifying spot.

Kohfeldt and Die Grün-Weßen started off the year red-hot with only one loss in their first eight Bundesliga matches before closing out the Hinründe with six defeats in nine matches. They rebounded in the Rückrunde by going 12 consecutive matches without a defeat, but losing three of their final five matches was more than enough to prevent them from qualifying for European competition.

Transfers

Transfers In:

· Niclas Füllkrug (CF) – Hannover 96 – 5.85m

· Marco Friedl (CB) – Bayern Munich – 3.15m

· Ömer Toprak (CB) – Borussia Dortmund – Loan

· Benjamin Goller (RW) – FC Schalke 04 – Free Transfer

Transfers Out:

· Max Kruse (CF) – Fenerbahçe – Free Transfer

· Aron Jóhannsson (CF) – Hammarby – Free Transfer

· Thore Jacobsen (LB) – FC Magdeburg – Loan

· Jonah Osabutey (CF) – Mouscron – Loan

· Felix Beijmo (RB) – Malmö FF – Loan

· Jannes Vollert (CB) – Hallescher FC – Loan

· Jan-Niklas Beste (LB) – FC Emmen – Loan

· Jean Manuel Mbom (CM) – KFC Uerdingen – Loan

· Boubacar Barry (RW) – KFC Uerdingen – Loan

· Niklas Schmidt (RM) – VfL Osnabrück – Loan

· Michael Zetterer (GK) – PEC Zwolle - Loan

· Thanos Petsos (DM) – Released

The name that stands out the most in those two lists is Max Kruse. While he only joined Bremen in 2016, he was incredibly productive with 35 goals in 92 combined appearances. While it sucks that they let him go on a free, they’ll probably be saving a ton on what they were paying him. You’ll also notice Toprak up there in the Transfers In section, as they only recently loaned him in for a fee of 2.25 million. I think it was a mistake on Dortmund’s part, as he played very well during the preseason and we will need the depth when the inevitable injuries occur, but Dortmund’s loss in Bremen’s big gain.

Along with Martin Harnik, Josh Sargent, Yuya Osako, and old-ass Claudio Pizarro, newcomer Niclas Füllkrug will look to fill the goal-scoring void left by Kruse. Füllkrug returns to the Werderstadion after stints at Nürnburg and Hannover that saw him put up 34 combined goals, but he’s coming off an injury-riddled 2018-19 that saw him miss most of the season with cartilage damage to his knee. Can he recover enough to be an effective goal-scorer and help replace Kruse? Only time will tell.

What to expect in 2019/20

Bremen will be entering this season with something I don’t believe they’ve had a lot of in recent years: expectations of success. Since becoming the permanent manager of Werder Bremen in November 2017, Florian Kohfeldt has turned a team that looked to be relegation fodder into something that can contend for European competition and possibly a deep cup run.

They start off with a fairly balanced opening to the season before a run of matches against the top of the Bundesliga towards the end of September and into October. If they can get through that rough patch that sees them face teams like Leipzig, Dortmund, Frankfurt, and Leverkusen with some positive results, they should be in good shape to challenge for a spot in the Europa League qualifiers.

Prediction: Challenge for Europa

I can see them being a lot of people’s dark-horse pick to sneak into the final top four, but that would take a lot to roll their way. Whether they can be the team that didn’t lose in 12 Rückrunde matches or the team that lost six of the last nine Hinründe games will determine where this team finishes this season.

I personally believe that with another year under Kohfeldt’s system, plus the continued development of their younger players, will only lead to success for Bremen. While the loss of their top goalscorer from the last three seasons will certainly, they didn’t really lose anyone of note, and they even added a few players at key positions. I think it’ll be just enough to finish in one of the two Europa League spots. Or they could regress terribly and fight to avoid relegation, who knows with teams like this.