19:30 (BST); Tuesday 19th September; Volkswagen Arena (Wolfsburg, Germany) BT Sport Extra
Werder Bremen make the short journey to Wolfsburg as the search for their first win of the season continues as they remain in the bottom three heading into Week 5.
Wolfsburg have had similar struggles to Bremen, but have a win on the board which came in Week 2 on the road to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Both sides need the points as we figure out who’s a title contender and who will fight to avoid the drop.
Last time out
Stuttgart 1-0 WOLFSBURG
Wolfsburg made the long journey south to the Mercedes-Benz Arena to face-off against a Stuttgart side who haven’t lost at home since late December.
Andries Jonker’s team didn’t come out fighting in the first half and just before half-time they were punished for some sloppy defensive play.
Chadrac Akolo was the lucky winner when his shot was initially parried by Koen Casteels, but unfortunately for the ‘keeper Akolo was there to convert the rebound at the second attempt of asking.
Wolfsburg played the final five minutes with an extra man with Christian Gentner coming off after colliding with keeper Casteels, but even still they struggled to create and deserved to lose.
WERDER BREMEN 1-2 Schalke
Alexander Nouri’s Werder Bremen returned home looking for their first win of the season against a Schalke side who had won just three of their last 17 away fixtures.
It was Bremen who started the brighter when Lamine Sané smashed the ball in from inside the area to give the hosts a well-deserved lead.
However, the lead lasted all but two minutes as Bremen conceded the first Bundesliga own goal of the season.
From Yevhen Konoplyanka’s corner, Thilo Kehrer produced a header to find Miloš Veljković, who headed into the empty net.
Bremen were the better side for the majority of the contest, but with eight minutes remaining Schalke snatched the points through an unmarked Leon Goretzka from Daniel Caligiuri’s corner as Bremen fell to their third defeat of the season.
Lacking any real thrust up front, Wolfsburg produced a poor display going forward and with Mario Gomez out, grim signs were on display in Stuttgart.
Divock Origi didn’t get a genuine crack, but he will have a new partner up top in midweek with Paul-Georges Ntep partnering the on-loan Liverpool striker.
In defence, Paul Verhaegh comes back in with William dropping to the bench.
Werder Bremen Lineup
After a frustrating loss at home to Schalke, Alexander Nouri will hope for a similar performance minus the defeat.
It looks likely that Bremen will be without Max Kruse after succumbing to a broken collarbone from a crunching Thilo Kehrer challenge.
Ishak Belfodil will make his first start alongside Fin Bartels. No other changes are expected for Bremen.
Key Battle: Koen Casteels vs Jiri Pavlenka
Koen Casteels has been in excellent form to start the season and there is no questioning that the Belgian shot-stopper has gained confidence since becoming the clubs official number one.
The 25-year-old has made 10 saves this season, which is equal second-best in the Bundesliga.
Casteels has been a match winner for Wolfsburg, but with no real punch up forward, expect the Belgian ‘keeper to be very busy on Saturday.
Casteels shares the second spot in saves made with Bremen ‘keeper Jiri Pavlenka. Bremen’s number one has been solid this season but has struggled in keeping a clean sheet.
Pavlenka needs to work on his footwork as a third of the goals he has conceded have gone through his legs. Both ‘keepers play a pivotal part in this clash.
Finding a goal scorer
The Week 4 signs weren’t positive for Wolfsburg as they created no meaningful chances against Stuttgart.
Yes, Stuttgart had a back five but even still, Wolfsburg had to take aim on Ron-Robert Zieler’s goal.
They showed how much they missed Mario Gomez and if they can’t find someone to shoulder the load, it could be a tricky next few weeks for Wolfsburg.
Set piece defending
All three goals scored in the Bremen and Schalke clash came from set-pieces, and it was the reason Werder lost.
Against Schalke, Bremen used man-marking as their tactic for defending set pieces, but the final goal scored by Leon Goretzka was exactly how you don’t execute that approach.
Robert Bauer was tasked with manning Leon Goretzka, but he gets caught ball-watching like Lamine Sané, who is nowhere near his opponent Matija Nastasić.
With Nastisić on his own, Bauer comes towards the ball allowing Goretzka to sneak behind. Nastasić misses the header which forces Bauer to commit, gifting Goretzka an easy tap-in.
Bremen need to shore up their defensive set-pieces to avoid this simple mistake from repeating itself.
The latest news to come out of Wolfsburg is that they've parted company with their manager Andries Jonker after seven months in charge.
The question now, therefore, is whether Wolfsburg will enjoy the new manager effect, that being a resurgence in form as the players fight for their place in the starting XI under their new boss.
With a caretaker likely to take charge for Tuesday's match, it'll be interesting to see how the players can respond to their former manager's departure.
PREDICTION: Wolfsburg 0-2 Werder Bremen
Without Mario Gomez, it's hard to see many positives in Wolfsburg’s game as the German international's presence makes a huge difference.
Werder Bremen have been building and you feel as if a win is just around the corner. Against a side that struggles at home, I expect Bremen to pounce and give Alexander Nouri his first win of the season.
Can Wolfsburg get their first win at home or will Werder Bremen finally break their duck? Let us know in the comments section below
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