Werder Bremen made a miserable start to 2017 with four defeats in succession. However, Werder produced some decent performances in those matches. In the narrow defeats at home to Borussia Dortmund (1-2) and Bayern Munich (1-2) the team from Bremen showed grit and determination. Werder lost in the last minute in a 3-2 away defeat at Augsburg and went down by the only goal of the game at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach and they could have got more out of both games. On matchday 20, Bremen were in the play-off spot. From then on the only way was up with away wins at Mainz (2-0) and Wolfsburg (2-1) plus a 2-0 home win against Darmstadt. That run of results has taken the Green and Whites up to fourteenth in the Bundesliga.
At the start of the season it was clear that avoiding relegation was the main priority. The maxim was to achieve 40 points as soon as possible. With 25 points to date there is still some way to go but there are still 11 games to play. Werder are strong up front. Legend striker Claudio Pizarro, who scored a hat-trick last season in the 4-1 win at Leverkusen, has yet to score in the league this term. A greater threat has come from Serge Gnabry (10 goals) and Max Kruse (6) with the pair scoring more than half of Werder's 30 goals to date.
The defence is still causing headaches for coach Alexander Nouri. Only Hamburg SV and Darmstadt 98 have conceded more goals than Werder (43). A particularly heavy blow for Bremen is the serious injury to captain Clemens Fritz. The 36-year-old, who used to play for Bayer 04, suffered a torn ligament in his right ankle in the match against Darmstadt and is probably ruled out for the rest of the season. We say get well soon Clemens
The captain is definitely ruled out and there are more or less big question marks over the appearance of three other Werder players. Serge Gnabry at two stop training on Wednesday due to knee pains. The Dane Thomas Delaney, who trained with a face mask following a facial fracture and concussion, is not sure whether he will be fit for Friday. And Philipp Bargfrede (hip) may also be unavailable for the match at the BayArena. Striker Izet Hajrovic is another absentee with a long-term injury.
In spite of all the personnel problems, Bremen have gained confidence from recent matches and again look to be strong position in the relegation battle given their experience over the past three years. Werder Bremen's strength at home could be a key element in the struggle to stay up.
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