The 2013-14 Bundesliga season for Werder Bremen was unspectacular despite coach Robin Dutt solidifying the team in a transitional year. The Traditionsverein hope that Dutt will be able to lead a charge up the table. They had a successful preseason trip to China in July. They also blanked Chelsea 3-0 in impressive fashion. They have built momentum that could change the tune of the rhetoric from just surviving to eyeing a top half finish.
Werder Bremen was in the relegation battle for much of the year. They finished 12th with 39 points. Dutt’s goal as they struggled was 40 points. They lost three of their last five games but the teams below them did not capitalize. They clinched their spot in the top tier with three matches to go. Their only two-game winning streak was the first two matches of the season. They had five streaks of at least two consecutive losses.
Werder Bremen’s defense was poor. They gave up 18 goals in four matches against Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Bremen had the worst goal differential outside of the relegation zone. They will have to improve on the almost two goals per season they gave up last year.
This was their weakest spot last season. Alejandro Gálvez came over from Rayo Vallecano and could get a big role in the back line. He has experience staving off relegation and Bremen hope he will fill in the gaping holes from last season. Gálvez had 66 appearances in La Liga. His transfer was free.
Captain Clemens Fritz will continue to add to his over 200 appearances. One half of last year’s center back pairing of Luca Caldirola looks to be on track to reclaim his spot. A loan returnee, Santiago Garcia, has gotten a run out in preseason. As part of the evolving defense, the keeper job is not secured although Raphael Wolf looks to be the favorite.
Felix Kroos will battle for a defensive role in the midfield. Toni’s brother just signed a new three-year deal saying his best prospects are with Bremen. Kroos scored his first Bundesliga goal last November. His competition is veteran Philipp Bargfrede, who is ready to eclipse the century mark for appearances with Bremen.
The biggest acquisition for Bremen this summer is Bosnia-Herzegovina international Izet Hajrovic. He did impress in the World Cup but was unable to make an impact with Robert Mancini‘s Galatasaray side. He filed a complaint with FIFA that he was not paid by Galatasaray so he was allowed to move elsewhere. Hajrovic signed a four-year deal and made his debut on July 23. He could be the free kick specialist and will play out on the wing.
Argentine striker Franco Di Santo scored four goals last season in his Bundesliga debut. Service will be the problem, but Di Santo has shown high quality. Nils Peterson and Fin Bartels could be part of a potent attack. The attack will be Bremen’s biggest strength. Will it be enough to make up for a potentially porous defense?
Dutt says the team spirit is at an all-time high. They are trying to put the relegation battle behind them and take the next step in the league. Obviously mentality helps preparation, but the play on the field could be just as rough. Their first two games are a push, but give Bremen a chance to start off on the right foot. Matchday three will be a barometer for them as they face Leverkusen.
2014-15 Record: 9-11-14, 38 Points, 12th Place