Winter break: Werder Bremen

5th Place

Grade: B-

Werder is tough to grade. But I suppose the following should be relevant: 1-4, 0-2, 0-5, 0-5. What is that you ask? That’s how Bremen did against the four clubs ahead of them, Bayern, Dortmund, Schalke and Gladbach. They also lost against 6th place Leverkusen. So lame results against all contenders, that is is sure to thrill your fans. It also means that they need to be graded harder, because frankly I expect more from them.

Werder has truly been a Jeckyl and Hyde squad this season. For one thing, they’ve got the job done in many instances, racking up nine wins. But as the stat above showed, they’ve gotten their asses reemed in big matches. Since Werder has spent a lot of their time getting their ass kicked, they actually have a negative goal difference.

Veteran GK Tim Wiese has played well largely, and anchors a very young squad that depends on seasoned players in all the key roles. Defenders Naldo, Andreas Wolf and Clemens Fritz are all around 30 or over. Actually, the defense hasn’t been too bad when the olides had their pre-match nap time, since about half their conceded goals were in those top 5 matches. Newcomer Sokratis, a 23 year old Greek, has shown promise, but others such as Austrian Sebastian Prödl or Lukas Schmitz have largely bombed.

The midfield has been hurt by injury. Veteran Tim Borowski has been out all season, and talented Marko Marin has also been missed recently. Borowski would provide steel, and his absence has clearly been felt when Bremen just phoned it in and got their asses ripped. Marin (still only 22), who seems like he’s been in the spotlight for a decade, is a dribbling wonder. Some creativity has clearly lacked, especially when the chips are down. Another youngster, Aaron Hunt has been OK, but highly-touted Mehmet Ekici (a 5 million buy from Bayern) hasn’t made the hoped for impact.

Up front, old-man Claudio Pizarro continues to get the job done. In fact next to Naldo, the Peruvian has been Bremen’s best player. He passed Giovane Elber recently for most career Bundesliga goals by a foreigner (154 and counting). But Pizarro has essentially been a one man wrecking crew. A lot has been expected of hot-headed Austrian international Marko Arnautovic, but he really hasn’t impressed. The next attacker, veteran Swede Markus Rosenberg also hasn’t looked great. Still, scoring goals is generally not a huge problem for Bremen.

Coach Thomas Schaaf is one of the longer serving bosses, although the crap past season and those embarrassing ass thumpings this year made some wonder whether the axe was coming. But both he and general manager Klaus Allofs just extended their contracts, so I suppose they’ll be around. And too be fair, they haven’t been the problem. Bremen is rebuilding, and whether they become a factor will depend on the young players reaching their potential.

In terms of potential, if Borowski and Marin come back, Bremen looks solid enough to stay in the top 3rd.

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