A gutsy Werder Bremen side ensured that the 2020/21 featured a solid surprise in its return. Florian Kohfeldt's Hanseaten stood tall against the German giants, nearly stealing all three points.
|Kingsley Coman.||Photo: Rufus46/Creative Commons/CC-by-SA 3.0|
Werder's young trainer declined to make any bold statements in his Friday presser. His team appeared in the mood to make a statement for him on the pitch, holding Bayern to a 1-1 draw at the Allianz and giving the 38-year-coach his first ever point against the FCB.
Hans Dieter Flick, facing his first match without the injured Joshua Kimmich and also missing Corentin Tolisso, set up his squad in a 4-1-4-1 on Saturday. Javi Martinez assumed the anchoring defensive midfielder role. Thomas Müller and Jamal Musiala started ahead of the Spaniard on the second attacking axis, flanked by wingers Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman.
Kohfedt countered with a 5-4-1 carefully designed to clog the FCB offensive lanes. An early injury to left-back Lucas Henerandez forced Flick into a personnel shuffle early in the match. Leon Goretzka came on to take Martinez's place, with the veteran moving back to pair with Jerome Boteng in central defensive. David Alaba swung out to his natural left-back position.
The Bavarians cleary experienced some difficulty adjusting. After knocking on the door with several quality chances in the first half, striker Josh Sargent saw them snatch a lead at the stroke of half-time. The American chested down a tight angle ball and executed an exquisite touch-turn before setting up Maximilian Eggestein from the left. Werder's midfield magician finished with aplomb.
Flick's men generated unanswered pressure for nearly twenty minutes after the restart. The equalizer came in the 62nd. Goretzka, who had hitherto struggled to play in a deeper role than he was accustomed to, fired off a perfect curling far-post cross that Coman headed home without difficulty.
The FCB trainer immediately employed a triple substitution in order to finish the game off. Leroy Sané, Serge Gnabry, and Eric Maxim Choupo Moting all came on in the 63rd. Bremen responded to this mighty surge of talent by actually getting some of their own offensive sequences going. After being pinned in their own third for the entire second half, they countered all expectations by waking up.
The Hanseaten were by far the better team down the stretch. Manuel Neuer had to make two heroic saves on Sargent late-on to preserve the draw. Kohfeldt's men topped Bayern in the xG easily, yet couldn't steal all three points.
Plenty of other exciting action was on display in the Bundesliga's other 15:30 kickoffs. Augsburg battled back to draw Borussia Mönchengladbach despite being reduced to ten-men. VfB Stuttgart also earned a 3-3 draw with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim with Marc Oliver Kempf scoring at 90+4.
Bayer Leverkusen held off an Arminia Bielefeld comeback to claim a 2-1 victory. Wolfsburg had little trouble dispatching Schalke 2-0.