Bayer Leverkusen 1-0 Werder Bremen

The general first half formations.

Robin Dutt finally won his first game as Bayer Leverkusen manager as the home side scored a late winner in what had been an even and entertaining game. These two attack-minded sides dominated one another in separate spells throughout the 90 minutes, with both goalkeepers on top form to keep the game scoreless. But a moment of brilliant athleticism by Simon Rolfes in the 86th minute saw the Bremen defence caught off-guard and a deserved point cruelly snatched from their grasp.

Match preview here.

Bremen, lining up with near enough the same 4-4-2 midfield diamond and players that contested the victory over Kaiserslautern last week, got us under way at the BayArena, where the hosts had made changes in goal, defence, midfield and up front. The opening stages were keenly and evenly contested, Stefan Kießling in particular embodying the home side’s fight; a quality lacking in recent weeks.

Chances at both ends were dictated by Bremen’s tactics in the opening ten minutes, as two examples from the eighth and ninth minutes respectively illustrated. During the former, Bremen started short, and Sebastian Prödl looked about as he brought the ball forward, eyeing up the six or so Bremen attackers bobbing centrally. Continue reading

Duisburg 0-0 Hansa Rostock

The first half formations.

Pre-season promotion favourites Duisburg put in another shambolic performance as Rostock missed the chance to grab all three points by spurning a number of first half opportunities. The visitors were well organised and hungry, but Duisburg’s first half performance was devoid of invention, effort and quality. They improved in the second half, but still couldn’t break down Hansa, who have now drawn their last four games.

Match preview here.

Both sides were unchanged from their respective league games last week, as Rostock got things under way at the Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena; reverberating with the fantastic noise of the passionate home fans. Duisburg pressed high and hard immediately, putting their guests under pressure and inducing nervousness. But the visitors soon began to give as good as they got out of possession, meaning that the ball went back and fore and nowhere in particular in the opening stages, with the sideways-passing deep centre-backs on either side being the only players with any room.

Peter Vollmann, setting his side out in a 4-2-3-1 which became a 4-4-2 when Duisburg had the ball (Tino Semmer and Mohammed Lartey only pressed the defence when they were about ten feet before the halfway line), was seemingly intent on using his ‘lone striker’ as a space-finder rather than a target man. The Rostock wingers looked to get on the ball as often as possible, and this allowed Lartey to make some runs in behind the defence too – the best coming in the fifth minute, when he burst between and behind the unaware Duisburg left-back and left-sided centre-back, only to drag his right-footed effort across goal. Continue reading

Bayer Leverkusen-Werder Bremen preview

The second round of the new Bundesliga season concludes this afternoon with a game between two of Germany’s bigger clubs. Yet, whereas Bayer Leverkusen would seemingly be the one currently on the up, Champions League campaign and all to look forward to, they’ve made a poor start to the season: losing 2-0 to Mainz last weekend on the opening day, and 4-3 to Dynamo Dresden in the cup a fortnight ago. Werder Bremen, on the other hand, avenged their 3-2 loss to Kaiserslautern on the final day of a forgettable 2010/11 campaign by beating them 2-0 last weekend, although the Saturday before that, they too exited the cup to lower-league opponents, going down 2-1 to Heidenheimer.

Marko Marin, the top assist-maker at the club last season (nine) despite never really convincing or being certain of a starting berth, missed a penalty in that match, although a new hero is now ostensibly stepping up to the plate in the form of Markus Rosenberg. The 28-year-old Swedish striker, on loan with Racing Santander last season where he scored nine times, bagged a brace against Kaiserslautern, and eight more goals in the green of Bremen before May and he’ll surpass Claudio Pizarro’s 2010/11 club-best tally of nine goals. Continue reading