Image: Wikimedia Commons / Werderfan10b
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Werderfan10b

Bremen sink to late defeat as relegation troubles mount

Wout Weghorst scored his first goal since March to strike a damning blow against Werder Bremen’s hopes of staying in the Bundesliga. As rain poured across Bremen, Weghorst scored the only goal of the game for Wolfsburg to leave Florian Kohfeldt’s side staring relegation in the face.

In what was a dreary opening 45 minutes, neither side were able to carve-out a wealth of clear-cut opportunities. The best chance of the first half came on 13 minutes when Wout Weghorst breezed beyond Miloš Veljković before attempting to flick the ball beyond the reach of Jiří Pavlenka. The Czech goalkeeper, a mainstay since arriving in Bremen three years ago, saved comfortably.

Bremen enjoyed their best spell of offensive pressure after 24 minutes, forcing a spectacular block from Maximillian Arnold. Davy Klassen’s driven cross eventually fell kindly for Josh Sargent, but the American forward’s shot was thwarted.

Had it not been for Arnold’s lunging intervention, the hosts would have taken the lead. Six minutes later, Wolfsburg ‘keeper Koen Casteels was forced into action for the first time, sprawling to his right to beat an audacious shot from Osako around the post.

The opening period was emblematic of Bremen’s relegation troubles

A goalless opening period did little to quell the home side’s nerves. Without a win at home since September, and on a run of twelve matches without a goal in the second half, the opening period at Weserstadion was emblematic of Bremen’s relegation troubles. Kohfeldt’s side are well-drilled defensively, but continue to show a lack of energy in the final third in the first half.

Sargent is always a willing runner for Bremen, but the American’s efforts are so often expended on defensive acts. If Bremen are to survive the drop, Kohfeldt must find a way to give his forwards better service.

Fifteen minutes after the restart, Sargent was once again involved in the action, using slick footwork to earn Bremen a free-kick deep inside Wolfsburg territory. The resultant set-piece yielded nothing productive for the hosts; instead, Wolfsburg broke quickly to mount attack of their own.

Kevin Mbabu’s run was met with a continual retreat from the hosts

While neither side dazzled offensively, John Brooks delivered an authoritative performance at the heart of Wolfsburg’s defence. The US international was composed in possession – even as conditions continued to deteriorate deep into the second half.

With play becoming increasingly stretched at both ends of the field, Weghorst notched the game’s only goal for the travelling side with seven minutes remaining. A commanding run from Kevin Mbabu was met with a continual retreat from the hosts, who were powerless to resist Weghort’s well-placed, headed finish. Although static defending can be blamed for Bremen’s defeat on this occasion; it will be their lack of cutting-edge in the final third that will relegate Kohfeldt’s side.

Pavlenka was forced into making a spectacular save just moments later, but his efforts were in vein. Defeat leaves Bremen on the cusp of relegation to the second division: victory against Paderborn next weekend is a requirement.

Bremen look destined to spend next season in the second division

Since the Bundesliga was launched in 1963-64, Bremen have missed just one season in the top flight – besting the records laid down by Bayern Munich and Hamburger SV. If Die Werderaner are to stave-off the drop in 2020, Kohfeldt’s side must find a path to victory on the road in the final weeks of the season.

With Düsseldorf, Mainz and Paderborn each picking up points this weekend, Bremen are now in deep trouble. Stranger things have happened, but the Weserstadion club look destined to spend next season in the second division.

Wolfsburg, meanwhile, go into the final weeks of the season with a spring in their step. It wasn’t a vintage win from the travelling side, but it was enough to earn three points against a club in crisis. Die Wölfe face Freiburg, Monchengladbach, Schalke and Bayern Munich before the end of the season: victory over Bremen was vital to Wolfsburg’s hopes of staying in the top six.

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