Following the departure of Mesut Ozil to Real Madrid, Werder Bremen have lost one and won one so far in the Bundesliga. But how will the Bremen club replace their focal point? IBWM welcomes Tom Archer.
The ‘grun-weiss’ may have still been suffering from a hangover from the Ozil saga. Throughout the summer there were whispers that Ozil was on his way out of Bremen. Chelsea and Spurs were said to be among the clubs courting the Gelsenkirchen born (where he began his career at club Schalke 04) star, one of the many German internationals with overseas heritage (in Ozil’s case Turkish), and with only one year left on his contract at Werder, the worst was expected by the Werder fans. I have no doubt that Ozil will be a huge success at Real if given the time, he is a Ryan Giggs of the mid-nineties player, who can dribble past players with consummate ease as well as putting the hard graft in by tracking back to help out his defenders. His temperament has improved greatly over the past few years. There were rumours when he was breaking into first-team football that he was a troublesome individual and Schalke 04 were more than happy for him to move to Werder Bremen in 2008 having played only 30 first team games for ‘die Koningsblauen’ for a fairly substantial fee of 4,5 million Euros. Another blow was dealt to Werder when previous fan-favourite Diego signed for VfL Wolfsburg, however, given Diego’s previous spell at Werder it would be difficult to replicate. The signing of Marko Arnautovic from FC Twente via Internazionale on loan (both opponents for Werder in the Champions League group stages) is seen as a bit of a gamble as Austrian Arnautovic has a reputation for being a bit of a loose cannon. However, the back-bone of last season’s team remains with Per Mertesacker, excellent Brazilian Naldo and Austrian Sebastian Prodl holding the fort at the back. Tim Wiese is one of, if not the best of a terrific choice of goalkeepers in Germany, although he is prone to the odd ‘David James-style’ error. The midfield looks strong with captain Torsten Frings and Tim Borowski with an array of attacking options including Pizarro, Hugo Almeida and Markus Rosenberg illustrating just how strong the Bundesliga is at the moment. With youngsters Phillippe Bargfrede and Aaron Hunt also available it will be an interesting season for Werder.
The question for Werder fans then is who could possibly replace their beloved Ozil of a player? That question was answered emphatically on a wet night in Genoa on Tuesday night. Having been outplayed by Sampdoria in the first half of the game and in particular Giampaolo Pazzini who scored a superb volley, Marko Marin grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck. With Werder trailing by a goal they pushed forward looking for the goal that would lead to extra-time. Marin with his mazy runs and determined tackling (defying his small stature) carried the Germans before Markus Rosenberg scored a cracking goal from the corner of the penalty are in the 93rd minute. Going into extra-time it was clear that there would be only one winner as the Italians looked sapped of all energy. It was left to Peruvian striker and ex-Chelsea player Claudio Pizarro to send ‘die grun-weissen’ through to the group stages of the Champions League with a silky, bottom corner finish from the edge of the box.
Bosnian-born Marin, who moved to Germany at the age of 2 cites his idol as former Yugoslav hero Dejan Savicevic and it is from Savicevic where Marin’s determined running and ‘never-say-die’ attitude comes from. The diminutive Marin stands at only five feet seven and was signed from Borussia Moenchengladbach in 2009 and has since made eleven appearances for the DeutscherNationalmannschaft as well as being a part of the main squad that journeyed to South Africa.
The prize for Werder and their loyal supporters, is a group with Internazionale, Tottenham HotspurTwente. Having played Dutch champions FC Twente in the Europa League last season, they are unlikely to be severely troubled in the two games against ‘De Tukkers’ who have lost strikers Blaise N’Kufo to the Major League in the USA and Marko Arnautovic to Bremen themselves. The games against, Inter, current holders, but traditionally slow starters and newcomers Spurs are enough to whet the appetite and the Werder fans will be looking to progress through the group stages. and FC
Teams in the Champions League this year will take Werder lightly at their peril and few in Germany will be surprised if the Bremen team progress to the quarter-finals, although the teams ability to self-distruct is also well known!!
Tom will be taking a regular look at Bundesliga 2 for IBWM but you can follow his updates here.