Football Features

Werder Bremen 0-1 Wolfsburg: Five things learned as Weghorst decides rainy affair

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 14:46, 7 June 2020

Werder Bremen are staring relegation in the face after Wolfsburg inflicted another Bundesliga home defeat on Sunday.

A closely fought game which ended amid a rainy storm and heading towards a goalless draw was decided late on by Wout Weghorst who consequently strengthened the Wolves’ chances of European football next term.

As for the hosts, it was another disappointing home result, and very few are now backing them to retain their top-flight status.

As the dust begins to settle, here are five things we learned from this encounter.

1. Home (dis)Comforts

Werder Bremen are one of five clubs — alongside Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg — to be crowned Bundesliga champions this century. Adding to that 2004 championship — their fourth title — is unlikely to happen anytime soon, especially if they go down this season. Heading into this afternoon’s game, the Green-Whites sat in the bottom two but six points adrift of safety. If they are to stave off relegation, thus ending a 39-year consecutive stay in Germany’s top division, Werder need to start taking advantage of familiar surroundings.

Home, of late, hasn’t been where the heart is. Sunday saw Bremen stretch their winless streak at the Weser-Stadion to 13 matches (10 losses and three draws). No team has been poorer at home this season than Bremen, who have only registered one win from 15 played and six goals scored (that is 10 fewer than rock-bottom Paderborn). It’s been their record on the road, ninth-best across the division, keeping their top-flight status alive. But as history has shown, holding a poor home record is more or less is a relegation sentence.

2. My kingdom for a goal

As touched upon, Werden can’t buy a goal, if they are to go down then it’s their paucity in the final third which will have sealed their fate. Managing just nine strikes at home this season, or 0.6 per game, is nothing short of outrageous, especially when they ultimately managed 35 (2.1 per game) last term. In the end, only Dortmund (52), Bayern (49) and Wolfsburg (36) outscored Bremen, who finished with the fourth-best home record. Such downfall is hard to comprehend even if losing Max Kruse last summer would have made an impact.

The 32-year-old forward was the only Werder player to reach double figures (11 goals) but the likes of Milot Rashica, Davy Klaassen and Maximilian Eggestein remain. Getting into scoring positions is not the problem, against Wolfsburg they managed 13 efforts, it’s the lack of confidence and ruthlessness. And the numbers back that up: they currently boast the worst shot conversion rate — excluding blocks — in the league (10.87). Bremen have also now failed to score in 10 of their last 17 league games. During this period, they’ve only netted more than once on one occasion (2-2 vs. Hertha on matchday 25).

3. A missed opportunity…

Wolfsburg, by contrast, are heading on the right track. They sit on the cusp of playing Europa League football next season even if their recent form has been shaky, but in isolation, their record away from home is a different story, unbeaten in five — winning four of those contests — before matchday 30. Also impressing manager Oliver Glasner would be their panache for goalscoring; in each of those games, they’d score a minimum of two goals, if they managed this feat in Bremen it would have set a new Bundesliga record for the Wolves.

They huffed and puffed — 17 shots on goal illustrates that — but they couldn’t reach that milestone. Wout Weghorst led the charge, being responsible for 29.4% of those strikes, which is nothing less than you’d expect from the Dutch marksman who proved his quality when he broke the deadlock eight minutes from time. Naturally, it was another header, no side have scored with their noggin more in the second half of the season than Wolfsburg (11).

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4. …but Weghorst was everywhere

You can see in his celebration how much that goal meant to Weghorst, who ended a personal four-match goalless run. His last goal came in a 2-2 draw at Union Berlin, but there’s a reason why Glasner continues to select him, even if he’s not firing on all cylinders.

At both ends of the pitch, he’s a nuisance as well as proving to be invaluable. No one on the pitch won more aerial duels (8) than him. But, importantly, he added to his 11 league goals and Wolfsburg’s 41 before today. A late surge for the golden boot seems out of the question but if he can end in a flourish then he and his teammates will be playing in Europe next season.

5. The second half problem

It goes without saying Werder have been poor at home this season. The stats don’t lie. Another curiosity is their performance at home after the half-time interval. If anyone expected Bremen to come out all guns blazing then they haven’t been paying attention. It’s now just four goals scored in the second 45 minutes across 15 games.

You don’t have to be a genius to know that’s simply abject, this bad return ensured they’ve yet to win a second half during this campaign. Toothless is probably the best word to describe it. Time, however, is running out, two home games remain and the next visitors are defending champions and league leaders Bayern Munich who are presently averaging 2.8 goals on the road.