Werder welcomed Eintracht Frankfurt to their Weserstadion in Bremen on Wednesday evening in a game that completed the 29th round of the 2020 Bundesliga season.
Both teams will have entered the contest in high spirits, having beaten Schalke 04 and Wolfsburg, respectively, both away from home in the previous round. Both of them are currently fighting for top-flight survival; though the visitors from Frankfurt felt the pressure somewhat less coming to Bremen, sitting five points above the relegation zone, while Werder need to grab as much as possible for the rest of the campaign if they are to hope to scramble up from the 17th place they occupied.
Werder boss Florian Kohfeldt was apparently worried about the fitness of midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt and winger Milot Rashica. Both players were withdrawn with knocks against Schalke, but both made the bench here.
Jiri Pavlenka was in goal. Milos Veljkovic and Niklas Moisander paired up in the heart of defence, with Theodor Gebre Selassie on their right and Marco Freidl on the left. Kevin Vogt, Davy Klaassen and Maximillian Eggestein formed a three-man midfield. Striker Davie Selke was flanked by Fin Bartels and Yuya Osako.
Adi Hutter in the away dugout couldn’t call upon midfielder Lucas Toro who was suspended for this match, and the injured forward Goncalo Paciencia.
Kevin Trapp stood between the posts. The back line of three comprised of Martin Hinteregger, Makoto Hasebe and David Abraham. Sebastian Rode and Dominik Kohr were tasked with holding the middle of the park, with Filip Kostic and Almamy Toure as wing-backs. Further up, Daichi Kamada and Mijat Gacinovic supported Andre Silva as the central striker.
The First Half
Eintracht started the game on the front foot, playing and moving the ball forward fast, but apart from a few hopeful crosses into the box, they didn’t do much of note early on.
In the ninth minute, however, Toure won the ball in the opposition half and involved Kamada who extended the pass to the left towards Kostic. Kostic hit it hard across the six-yard box, but Silva couldn’t get there in time. Two minutes later, Silva broke into the box from the right and hit a low shot on target, but Pavlenka had closed the angle down.
Not that Werder settled for defending; they fought very hard, trying to match the visitors’ organized approach soon grew into the game. Minute 15 was running when they broke down the middle and eventually Klaassen let one fly from 20 yards. It got deflected and awkwardly changed direction, but Trapp was equal to it.
Neither team held back on physicality, and they picked up a yellow card apiece in the opening 15 minutes – Bartels and Hinteregger.
Werder striker Selke had a good chance after 23 minutes as a good through pass found him running towards Trapp, but the Eintracht ‘keeper did very well again. The home team applied some pressure for a while after that, but to not much effect.
However, the game seemed to have turned completely by that point. It was Werder now who saw more of the ball, getting it quickly into the opposition half and trying to break through Eintracht’s defence. It took the visitors several attempts to get things under control again and move forward in numbers. The teams had set a lively rhythm to the proceedings, and the feeling was that the game could move in either direction at any point.
In the 35th minute, Eintracht captain Abraham made an inexplicable blunder and sheer luck kept his team on level terms. Trying to prevent Klaassen from controlling the ball in the box, he clearly and deliberately handled the ball. Referee Patrick Ittrick obviously got the call from the VAR room and blew his whistle, but it eventually transpired that Klaassen had been offside when the ball was directed towards him and Werder’s hopes of a penalty were dashed.
Eintracht dominated the last minutes of the half, Eintracht picked up a potentially serious problem. Hinteregger, already on a yellow card, committed a needless foul in Werder’s box after a set-piece, and the talk between him and the referee had all the signs of a final warning.
Werder also had an opportunity before the break. They broke on the counter in stoppage time and eventually Bartels hit a volley from just outside the box – straight at Trapp.
The Second Half
The opening minutes of the second period saw a tough battle in the middle of the park with both teams looking to impose themselves on the proceedings. The tide gradually went into Eintracht’s favour, but Werder constantly reminded the visitors of their capability hit back quickly.
But in the 58th minute, Werder’s defence made a mess of things in their own box and the ball eventually reached Kohr, unmarked at 10 yards. The Eintracht midfielder smashed it past Pavlenka and into the net, but linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
But three minutes later, the drop in the focus of the home team’s back line allowed Eintracht to put the ball in the net again, and this time it counted. A fine cross from the left by Kostic found Silva poorly marked on the edge of six yards, and the striker slammed his header in.
It was time for Kohfeldt to act now, and he replaced Bartels and Selke with Milot Rasica and Joshua Sargent, but the visitors now seemed eager to capitalize further on the situation. As Werder moved their lines forward, clever passes in behind were aimed at the pace of Kostic and Silva and it could have been dangerous for Pavlenka a few more times before his teammates finally managed to get a grip.
Werder came close to an equalizer in the 68th minute, but Gebre Selassie failed to take advantage of Hinteregger and Kohr colliding in their box. Gacinovic almost punished Werder four minutes later (it took three for Hinteregger to be patched up by the medics) as he dances past several opponents down the middle and into the box, but his trickling shot from near the penalty spot went just wide.
As the game moved into its final 20 minutes, Eintracht were getting a stronger hold over the proceedings. They defended well, right from the top, without wasting too much energy, and moved forward quickly whenever opportunity arose. In the 78th minute, however, they moved up in numbers and Werder had a chance to hit them with their own club, but the home side overcomplicated their counterattacked and were eventually stopped on the edge of the box.
But three minutes later, Eintracht found that second goal and made things easier for themselves. A corner taken by Kostic was flicked on from the near post by Bas Dost, who had replaced Silva in the 77 minute, and the ball fell at the feet of another substitute, Stefan Ilsanker, who had replaced Rode just before the corner was taken. It means that Ilsanker’s first touch of the game was putting the ball calmly in the net from a few yards.
There was nothing Werder could do at this point. They grew more frustrated by the minute as the end approached, and Ilsanker punished them once more in the final minute of the 90. Another substitute, Jonathan de Guzman (on for Gacinovic in the 88′) swung a free-kick in towards the edge of six yards, where Ilsanker beat his man in the air and slammed it in.
There were five minutes of added time, but they seemed like five minutes of pointless agony for the home team.
It was another one of those games where the opponents seemed evenly matched for long portions, before one of them lost concentration and broke ranks, allowing the qualities of the other to suddenly bear fruit. A deserved victory for Eintracht, there can be no doubt about that. One of the more interesting things to note in their performance was the fact that all of their substitutions, relatively late though they were, made a notable contribution to the cause.
Hutter’s men still haven’t mathematically secured survival, but they look well on course to do so in the coming rounds. These three points have now taken them to 11th place as they moved above FC Koln, with a total tally of 35.
But things don’t look that good for Werder. On paper, a game at home against Eintracht seemed a good opportunity to get something, at least a point to help them in their struggle, but the opportunity is now gone and they will have to focus on what’s coming – Wolfsburg on Sunday.
WERDER BREMEN: Pavlenka 7, Veljkovic 6, Moisander 6, Friedl 6 (76′ Augustinsson 6), Selassie 6.5, Vogt 6.5 (83′ Woltemade N/A), Eggestein 6.5, Klaassen 7, Bartels 6.5 (61′ Rashica 6), Osako 5.5 (76′ Bittencourt 6), Selke 5.5 (61′ Sargent 5.5).
EINTRACHT FRANKFURT: Trapp 7.5, Hinteregger 7.5, Hasebe 7, Abraham 6.5, Rode 7 (81′ Ilsanker 9), Kohr 7, Toure 6.5, Kostic 7.5, Kamada 6 (77′ Sow 6), Gacinovic 7.5 (88′ De Guzman 7), Silva 7 (77′ Dost 7).
GOALS: Silva 61′, Ilsanker 81′, 90′.
YELLOW CARDS: Bartels 3′, Hinteregger 15′, Veljkovic 87′.
REFEREE: Patrick Ittrich.
DATE & VENUE: June 3, 2020, Weserstadion, Bremen.