Werder Bremen have a date with RB Leipzig in the 2020/21 DFB Pokal semi-finals at the end of the month after overcoming SSV Jahn Regensburg courtesy of a Yuya Osako strike.
|Photo: GEPA Pictures/Sven Sonntag|
In the long-delayed, not to mention highly publicized, quarterfinal fixture in Germany's domestic cup, SV Werder Bremen punched through to the semi-finals with 1-0 victory away at Regensburg. Florian Kohfeldt's Hanseaten lived up to their role as favorites against their second-tier opponents, yet still had to labor intensively to achieve the narrow victory.
Defensive stalwart Ömer Toprak's absence due to back problems forced Kohfeldt to deploy a novel back four. Normal wingbacks Ludwig Augustinsson and Theodor Gebre Selassie moved back to fullback positions flanked central defenders Marco Friedl and Niklas Moisander. Christian Groß played sweeper, keeping a vertical line with anchoring midfielder Yuya Osako, who in turn buttressed a double striker set of Josh Sargent and Milot Rashica.
The constellation did a fairly consistent job of maintaining possession whilst ideas for penetrating the attacking third lacked. Kohfeldt could be heard audibly criticizing his team's lack of forward impetus from the sidelines, in some cases singling out specific players whom he wished to see run more. Only Rashica was able to direct a tame effort at goal.
Rashica came a little closer with an laudable effort just wide of the mark seconds after the restart. Moisander also hit the post off a corner shortly before Osako scored the match's lone goal in the 52nd. Friedl serviced the Japanese international with an excellent pass and the 30-year-old supplied his own sharp volley finish off the turn.
Osako saw his bid for a brace denied by Regensburg keeper Alexander Meier later on in the 67th. Sargent and midfielder Kevin Möhwald also got solid efforts off down the stretch as Bremen dominated much of the duration of proceedings. The underdog hosts threw everything forward in the last ten minutes, but couldn't manage to make a few dangerous crosses connect with anyone.
As the match headed into injury time, the two sides traded scoring opportunities. Werder keeper Jiri Pavlenka and defender Gebre Selassie combined to fend off a wicked double chance from Regensburg striker Andreas Albers in the 90th. Gebre Selassie cleared the Danish attacker's second effort off the line in what proved a heart stopping moment. Bremen sub Davie Selke barely missed latching onto a Felix Agu square at 90+5.
At long last the semi-final fixtures for the 2020/21 DFB-Pokal are set. Winners Bremen square off against Leipzig on April 30th. Borussia Dortmund will face the Cinderella Bayern slayers Holstein Kiel the very next day. This year's final is set for May 13th at Berlin's Olympiastadion.