Werder Bremen looking to evade knockout blow against Bayern Munich | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 23.04.2019
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Werder Bremen looking to evade knockout blow against Bayern Munich

After Bayern won Round 1 of the double header, Bremen have a chance to exact swift revenge on Wednesday. The six-time German Cup winners are out to avoid a repeat of 2016 as they look to book their ticket to Berlin.

Saturday's 1-0 loss to Bayern has Bremen wounded and on the ropes. With the German Cup final and not three points up for grabs on Wednesday, Werder are confident of bouncing back on home soil to avoid a knockout blow in their biggest game of the 2018-19 campaign.

"We'll pull ourselves together and on Wednesday show them that, in a game of football with the Weserstadion behind us, we can score goals — it'll be something different," said head coach Florian Kohfeldt, who felt that Milos Veljkovic's 58th-minute sending off "decided the game". 

Nevertheless, there were positives for the 36-year-old to draw from Round 1 of their league-and-cup double header as Bayern had to rely on a deflected long-shot from Niklas Süle to hand Bremen their first defeat of 2019: "We defended heroically, but we want to create more and be braver with the ball going forward."

That may be easier said than done given that talismanic club captain Max Kruse's inclusion is in doubt after bruising his thigh on Saturday. "We'll monitor him intensively for two days," said Kohfeldt. "We hope that he'll be available."

Read more: Max Kruse should be back in the Germany team

Kruse has been instrumental in a remarkable campaign that saw Bremen score in every league game until the loss to Bayern. Together with Milot Rashica, the 31-year-old has produced what some would argue is the best form of his career having had a hand in 24 of Werder's 68 goals in all competitions this season.

Watch video 01:28

Max Kruse - Bremen's life-insurance policy

Out to avoid a repeat of 2016

Having gathered invaluable information, Kohfeldt's ability to dust his side down, sharpen their focus and get them ready for another grueling 90 minutes will be a further measure of a man who has impressed at nearly every turn so far.

Bremen's transformation from relegation candidates to European contenders under Kohfeldt has been remarkable and, while a win over Bayern wouldn't be the crowning glory, it would be another impressive feather in the promising coach's cap.

The last time Bremen reached the final four of Germany's sole cup competition back in the 2015/16 campaign, it was die Münchner who clinched a 2-0 win on home soil. A Thomas Müller brace stamped their ticket to the capital.

Ten members of Bayern's match day squad from three years ago are still on the books in Bavaria, while the six-time DFB Cup winner's line-up is virtually unrecognizable in comparison to present day. The only survivors are Theodor Gebre Selassie, Fin Bartels and Claudio Pizarro, who called for Werder "to keep hold of our skill and concentration" on Wednesday. 

Four points behind the top six and facing a tough Bundesliga run-in — Bremen face Düsseldorf, Dortmund, Hoffenheim and Frankfurt in their final four league games  the cup is the path of least resistance as Werder look to qualify for Europe. 

A win over Bayern would not only keep that dream alive, but prove that they deserve to end their eight-season absence from continental competition.

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