At the end of the 2016-17, Werder Bremen were on an unstoppable run of form, going 11 games unbeaten and pulling themselves out of the relegation spots and into European contention. Their form, quite obviously, didn’t carry over from the last season. Starting off in the Bundesliga without a win in eleven games before an upturn in form, here’s how the Hinrunde played out for the Green-Whites.
An unlucky loss to Hoffenheim via an extraordinary deflection kicked off the Bundesliga for Bremen – and in some ways, it epitomised the Hinrunde for them as well. A quick-fire Robert Lewandowski double condemned Werder to a loss before Thomas Delaney saved a point for them against Hertha Berlin. A late Leon Goretzka goal in the next match meant a loss to Schalke at the Weserstadion before drawing to Wolfsburg, Freiburg, and Hamburg (in the Nordderby) to round off the games preceding the international break.
After the break, Bremen lost by two to Monchengladbach and drew with fellow strugglers Cologne in a relegation six-pointer. A three-goal loss to Augsburg saw Alexander Nouri handed his marching orders after ten league matches, with the Green-Whites laying second-bottom in the league. Second team manager Florian Kohfeldt was to replace him, as is now custom in Bremen.
An impressive first game from Kohfeldt against Frankfurt saw him handed the permanent job. Am empathic turn of form followed, with Max Kruse the hat-trick hero win a 4-0 win over new boys Hannover before showing signs of growth in a 2-0 loss in Leipzig. Die Grün-Weissen picked up wins over Stuttgart and Dortmund before losing to Bayer and they unluckily drew with Mainz to end the Hinrunde action.
In the DFB-Pokal, Bremen have won all their games, which include wins over third division Wurzburger Kickers, and Bundesliga sides Hoffenheim and Freiburg. In the first round, against Wurzburger, Milos Veljkovic, Max Kruse, and Maximilian Eggestein all netted in the second half to put Bremen through and open the competitive season to a high note. Bremen reversed the unjust result against Hoffenheim in the league, having on-loan striker Ishak Belfodil to thank in a 1-0 victory. Belfodil netted again, just three minutes in this time, against Freiburg before Florian Kainz doubled their lead. Nils Petersen pulled one back from the spot shortly after, and Philipp Bargfrede after the break to restore Bremen’s two goal advantage. Yoric Ravet made it a nervy few last minutes before Bremen left for the winter break, victorious and in the quarter finals of the Pokal.
The second half of the season has a chance to be as explosive and uplifting as it was in the previous season, with the team showing signs of improvement and youngsters coming into the team. Key man Fin Bartels sustained a long-term injury along the way, but Max Kruse – and the team – had rediscovered their form right before the winter break, and captain Zlatko Junuzovic has come back from injury in time for their training camp. All signs prompting optimism, which Bremen fans and players alike have every right to have.