SV Werder Bremen: Can they succeed in breaking free? – data analysis
It was a tough season for SV Werder Bremen that finished 16th in Bundesliga. After an unusual weak Bundesliga campaign, they had to go into the play-offs against 1.FC Heidenheim that finished 3rd in 2.Bundesliga. After 180 minutes and two draws (0:0 and 2:2), Werder Bremen stayed in Germany´s first division thanks to the away goal rule. Nevertheless, young head coach Florian Kohfeldt will continue to be Bremen´s most important man. He definitely has a big challenge ahead. Is Bremen ready to play a better season to come back into higher regions in the Bundesliga table?
First of all, we will look at the squad structure and the width within the team. As you can see in the image below, Bremen´s current squad list has 33 names. A quite high number for a team that only participate in two competitions (Bundesliga and DFB Pokal). However, last season, Bremen struggled to find a starting eleven because most players being injured. That might be the reason why they want to have a bigger squad with more options next season. With 3 goalkeepers, they meet the Bundesliga standard. All in all, they have 4 options for their full-back positions (2 on the left side and 2 on the right side). With 5 centre-backs, they have enough options even one or two players get injured during the long season. In midfield, they can build on 9 central midfielders and further 2 offensive midfielders. That makes 11 midfielders in total and seems a bit overstaffed. Nevertheless, regarding the tight schedule, the unusual short winter break, and the number of national team matches, it might be a big advantage to have several options in midfield. Adding to that, Kohfeldt can choose between 2 left-wings and 3 right-wings. Their 5 strikers complete Bremen´s current squad list.
Jiri Pavlenka (28) was one of the best goalkeepers in the 2018/19 Bundesliga campaign. During the last season, he could not really help his team despite being at the peak of his career. Looking at his stats, he will have to improve his performances to be Bremen´s reliable support again. Stefanos Kapino (26) and Eduardo Dos Santos Haesler (21) are no competitors for the starting spot in the team but will be needed to keep the training standard as high as possible.
In Bremen´s central defence is lots of quality: Milos Veljkovic (24), Ömer Toprak (31), Marco Friedl (22), and captain Niclas Moisander (34) are all experienced Bundesliga defenders. With Christian Groß (31), Kohfeldt got another experienced player from Bremen´s second team. Especially Toprak will be particularly important for the team after being injured for most of the time last season. His successful aerial duels (2,7 per 90 minutes) and clearances (6 per 90 minutes) are the highest compared to his teammates. Captain Moisander and Vejkovic still have good chances to be in the starting eleven as Friedl is also used to play as full-back or wing-back.
Ludwig Augustinsson (26) and Marco Friedl (22) might compete to get the spot in the starting eleven on the left side. Comparing the stats in terms of successful pressures and progressive distance per 90 minutes, Augustinsson seems to be the favourite in this duel. Felix Agu (20) comes from VFL Osnabrück to be another option with lots of potential to improve. On the right side, Theodor Gebre Selassie (33) will lead the race against the inexperienced Simon Straudi (21).
Most players in Bremen´s squad are at home in central midfield. All in all 9 players are able to play in this position: Patrick Erras (25, 1.FC Nürnberg), Jean Manuel Mbom (20, returns from loan at KFC Uerdingen), Ole Käuper (23, returns from loan at Carl-Zeiss Jena), Ilia Gruev (20), Maximilian Eggestein (23), Davy Klaasen (27), Kevin Möhwald (27), Romano Schmid (20, returns from loan at Wolfsberger AC) and Thore Jacobsen (23, returns from loan at 1.FC Magedeburg). However, only three players seem to have Bundesliga niveau. Comparing the stats of Eggestein, Klaasen and Möhwald, it is outstanding that Eggestein and Klaasen are players with an identical playing style whereas Möhwald is a bit more defensive thinking.
Central offensive midfield
In central offensive midfield, Leonardo Bittencourt (26) outshines most of the other players in Bundesliga and in his position. Playing for several Bundesliga clubs (e.g. Borussia Dortmund) already, he provides lots of experience combined with cleverness and game-reading abilities. Johan Mina (18, CS Emelec U20) will be his only back-up.
Milot Rashica (24) as the star of the team is playing as a left-winger. He has a guarantee to start if he stays at Bremen next season. His back-up will be the 19-year-old Oscar Schönfelder who comes from Mainz 05. On the right-wing, Bremen surprised by winning the race to get Tahith Chong. The 20-year-old youngster is loaned out from Manchester United. Together with Johannes Eggestein (22) and Martin Harnik (33), he will fight to get a starting spot on Bremen´s right-wing.
Davie Selke (25), Yuya Osako (30), and Niclas Füllkrug (27) are Bremen´s experienced forwards whereas Nick Woltemade (18) and Josh Sargent (20) are promising talents for this position. Since Füllkrug was injured nearly the whole last season, Sargent and Osako seem to lead the race. However, Füllkrug and Selke are back-ups of high quality.
Most of the time, Kohfeldt lined-up his team in a 4-3-1-2 formation. During the match, the central defensive midfielder had the task to drop between the centre-backs. This might be Bremen´s formation next season again. If so, Rashica will play next to Osako or Sargent as a wide forward whereas Bittencourt is the only offensive midfielder in front of M. Eggestein, Klaasen and Möhwald.
Looking at the players in Bremen´s squad, they have enough quality in their first eleven to play a good Bundesliga season. However, even if their squad width is big enough, they lack quality on the bench. Kohfeldt will need to rotate often because of the tight schedule. Inexperienced, young players will then need to adapt as fast as possible. All in all, they will play a better season than last year. Their long term goal to qualify for Europe should not be their demand for next season.