They survived in dramatic fashion last time round and head coach Viktor Skripnik will start the new campaign under some pressure. Will the return of Max Kruse be enough to lift the Green and Whites?
Repeating the pattern of last season won't see Viktor Skripnik survive too long at Werder Bremen. But following an ambitious swoop to bring Max Kruse to the Weser Stadium, the "Green and Whites" have reason to be optimistic.
Transfers: Kruse lifts the mood
Frank Baumann, the new Bremen sporting director, didn't waste a second in his efforts to restock the squad after the departures of a couple of key players. Jannik Vestergaard left for Borussia Mönchengladbach, while Anthony Ujah was sold to Chinese club Liaoning FC. Baumann put the funds that Bremen received in return to good use and the Green and Whites are coming out of the summer break with an adequate roster.
The signing of Kruse, the fourth-most expensive player in the club's history, appears to have radically changed the atmosphere around the squad. The 28-year-old, who has made 14 appearances for Germany, continues to be of a Champions League standard, yet the forward seemed more than pleased to be back at his former employers, who are a long way off being in the running to qualify for Europe. Kruse's eight-week lay off at the start of the season is a problem for Skripnik. He was expected to ease the burden on the rest of the side, which finished two points above a relegation-playoff spot last term.
Kruse is to be bolstered by Florian Kainz, a 23-year-old winger who moved to the Weser from Rapid Vienna and likes to play in and around the box and score goals. Justin Eilers (Dynamo Dresden) and Lennart Thy (St. Pauli) have moved up from the second division to give Skripnik extra depth in attack. However, it will be interesting to see how the back four evolves over the next few months.
In place of Vestergaard - and after the end of Papy Djilobodji's loan period - Bremen have signed Niklas Moisander from Sampdoria, Fallou Diagne of Rennes and Bordeaux's Lamine Sane. Diagne has returned to Germany having previously had a spell at Freiburg, while Moisander brings the experience of more than 50 international caps for Finland and almost 200 appearances for Ajax.
Head coach: Viktor Skripnik
Skripnik, a former player for Bremen, has settled into the job over the last one-and-a-bit years, after having replaced Robin Dutt, whose reign as Thomas Schaaf's successor was a disaster. Already a coach at the club, Skripnik was promoted to the Bundesliga side and has managed to keep Bremen's heads above water. The question now is whether he can lead them to the next logically step in their development - challenging for a place in Europe.
Werder spent much of last season mired in the bottom three last season, but management's decision to stick by Skripnik paid off towards the end of the campaign. The Ukrainian isn't the most vocal or tactically astute coach, but he seems happy to take the shackles off his squad and the likes of veteran striker Claudio Pizarro have flourished.
Key man: Aron Johannsson
Max Kruse is obviously the most talented individual player in the squad. But keep an eye out for US international center forward Aron Johannsson who is set to return to first-team action. The 24-year-old, who cost around four million euros ($4.5 million) last summer, was ruled out with a hip problem for almost all of last season.However, he has demonstrated in the past that he can be a prolific marksman, having scored 38 goals in 84 appearances for his former club, AZ Alkmaar.
What to expect: Looking to improve on last season
Werder Bremen's 13th-place finish last season wasn't quite an embarrassment, but it also can't be considered a successful season. Pizarro's form was inspired, with 12 goals in the second half of the campaign. This season, Bremen and Skripnik cannot rely just on the 37-year-old. It was a four-or-five game burst from Bremen at the tail-end of the year which secured their Bundesliga status for another campaign.
Under Skripnik's guidance, Bremen have improved. The club has stability and Baumann has given them a clear plan. Skripnik may discover his limitations soon, but he is the perfect breed of coach to take the club forward. Given the firepower that they have up front, fans of the Green and Whites can expect plenty of goals at the Weser Stadium.