Werder Bremen 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Qualifying for next season’s Champions League remains a tall order for both Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen after they shared the spoils this afternoon following an evenly-contested match. Claudio Pizarro’s goal midway through the first-half didn’t quite come against the run of play, but Robin Dutt’s Leverkusen had been by far the better side in the game’s opening quarter. A half-time substitution and formational change revitalized Leverkusen, putting them back in the driving seat, and the visitors deservedly grabbed an early equalizer from a corner after a Tim Wiese mistake. Erin Derdiyok and Lars Bender looked particularly dangerous for the visitors thereafter, but neither side could grab a winner, despite having a plethora of chances in the closing stages. The result keeps the sides in fifth and sixth places respectively, and five points behind the side currently sitting ‘last’ in the top-four, Borussia Mönchengladbach (who are yet to play this weekend).

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Werder Bremen (4-4-2 diamond, from right to left): Wiese; Clemens Fritz, François Affolter, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Florian Hartherz; Phillipp Bargfrede; Aleksandr Ignjovski, Tom Trybull; Mehmet Ekici; Markus Rosenborg, Pizarro

Bayer Leverkusen (4-4-2 diamond, from right to left): Bernd Leno; Danny da Costa, Daniel Schwaab, Manuel Friedrich, Michal Kadlec; Stefan Reinartz; Gonzalo Castro, Simon Rolfes; Bender; Stefan Kießling, André Schürrle Continue reading

Werder Bremen-Bayer Leverkusen preview

Two of Germany’s most successful sides in the 21st Century face one another tomorrow afternoon in the Bundesliga. Between them, Werder Bremen and Bayer Leverkusen have notched up 12 top-four finishes this millennium, although as it stands, neither side looks good enough to take that total up to 13 or 14 come May. Winning here, however, is probably the only way to change that.

Some of the main narratives from both sides’ season to date have involved former Chelsea players. While Claudio Pizarro can’t stop scoring for Bremen, Michael Ballack has been one of the more disappointing of a plethora of disappointing performers for beleaguered coach Robin Dutt at Bayer Leverkusen. However, the club’s fans – eagerly awaiting the upcoming Champions League tie against Barcelona – seemingly sided with the 35-year-old midfielder as he was taken off during last weekend’s 3-2 victory over Mainz. Boos reverberated around the BayArena, and such noises were not entirely unexpected – since joining from Freiburg in the summer, Dutt is yet to convince both fans of the club and the players in his squad that he is the right man for the job. Continue reading

Nuremberg 2-0 Hertha Berlin

Nuremberg defeated Hertha Berlin to ruin Michael Skibbe’s first game in charge of the capital city club. Alexander Esswein and Dominic Maroh were the match-winners for the struggling Franconian side in a game low on quality and chances: a situation caused primarily by the Frankenstadion’s terrible pitch. With his side not only losing, but also failing to impress with their new negative tactics and showing little in the way of creativity or goal threat, this really was a poor start to life for Skibbe at Hertha. Dieter Hecking’s team, who played the better football, leapfrog the capital city side as a result of this win, leaving Hertha just four points clear of the drop-zone (with Kaiserslautern and Mainz, two of the sides below them, still to play this weekend).

Match preview here.

Starting formations

Nuremberg (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Raphael Schäfer; Jens Hegeler, Maroh, Philipp Wollscheid, Adam Hloušek; Almog Cohen, Timmy Simons;  Daniel Didavi, Christian Eigler, Esswein; Tomáš Pekhart

Hertha Berlin (4-2-3-1, from right to left): Thomas Kraft; Christian Lell, Roman Hubník, Christoph Janker, Levan Kobiashvili; Andreas Ottl, Peter Niemeyer; Patrick Ebert, Adrián Ramos, Ronny; Pierre-Michel Lasogga Continue reading

Nuremberg-Hertha BSC preview

The Bundesliga is back after a month-long winter break, with new coaches and fresh signings joining the familiar faces to kick off the 18th round of fixtures. One of the Saturday afternoon ties sees Hertha Berlin travel to Nuremberg, with new coach Michael Skibbe taking charge of the visitors for the first time in a league match. Nobody associated with either of these sides will be able to sleep soundly in their beds until more points are on the board, with Nuremberg sitting in 15th spot having accumulated just 18 points, and the capital city outfit a mere four places and two points ahead of them. Continue reading