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Preview: Werder Bremen vs. Heidenheim - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews the Bundesliga relegation playoff first leg between Werder Bremen and Heidenheim, including team news and predicted lineups.

Werder Bremen will be looking to pick up a positive result when they welcome Heidenheim to Weserstadion for the first leg of their Bundesliga relegation playoff on Thursday night.

Bremen snatched the playoff spot from Fortuna Dusseldorf on the final weekend of the regular season, while Heidenheim finished third in the 2.Bundesliga to earn the right to battle for a spot in the top flight.

Match preview

Werder Bremen's Leonardo Bittencourt pictured on May 30, 2020© Reuters

Bremen finished eighth in the Bundesliga last season and have not actually operated outside of Germany's top flight since the 1980-81 campaign, which is an indication of just how much of a surprise it would be to see the club drop into the second tier for next term.

For some time, it did appear that Florian Kohfeldt's side would be sinking automatically into the 2.Bundesliga, but a thumping 6-1 win over Koln on June 27 saw them snatch the playoff spot from Dusseldorf, who were immediately relegated alongside Paderborn.

There is no getting away from the fact that it has been a disappointing campaign for Die Werderaner, but they are the huge favourites to overcome Heidenheim over two legs, with the second match set to take place on Monday night.

Only Paderborn (22) lost more Bundesliga matches than Bremen (19) during the 2019-20 campaign, though, while the Green and Whites had the second-worst record in Germany's top flight with just nine points from 17 matches, which will certainly hand the visitors confidence ahead of the first leg.

Werder Bremen attacker Milot Rashica in action against Borussia Dortmund on February 4, 2020© Reuters

Heidenheim, as mentioned, finished third behind Arminia Bielefeld and Stuttgart in the 2.Bundesliga this season to earn the right to take on Bremen in a two-legged playoff affair.

The second-tier outfit won 15 of their 34 league matches, suffering just nine defeats in the process, but they will enter this match off the back of a 3-0 loss to Arminia Bielefeld last weekend.

Frank Schmidt's side had the second-best defensive record in the 2.Bundesliga this season with just 36 goals conceded, although they only managed to pick up four victories on their travels.

Heidenheim have never played in the Bundesliga and were operating in the third tier as recently as 2013-14, and it would be some story if they managed to overcome Bremen to advance to the top level.

Bremen Bundesliga form: LLWLLW

Heidenheim 2.Bundesliga form: WLWDWL

Team News

Milot Rashica pictured in September 2018© Reuters

Bremen will be without the services of Kevin Vogt due to suspension, meaning that there could be a spot at the back for Christian Gross, but it is otherwise expected to be the same side that started against Koln.

Milot Rashica, who has been linked with Liverpool in recent weeks, will feature in the final third alongside Yuya Osako, with Niclas Fullkrug expected to lead the line once again.

Joshua Sargent and Claudio Pizarro are likely to be the attacking options off the bench, but the hosts do have some injury concerns with Sebastian Langkamp and Kevin Mohwald still struggling.

As for the visitors, Konstantin Kerschbaumer could drop out of the starting side for this match, with Marc Schatterer potentially joining top scorer Tim Kleindienst in an attacking position.

Maximilian Thiel will definitely miss out for the second-tier outfit due to a knee injury, but Arne Feick could be available, having recently been on the sidelines with a knock.

Bremen possible starting lineup:
Pavlenka; Gross, Veljkovic, Moisander; Gebre Selassie, M. Eggestein, Klaassen, Friedel; Osako, Fullkrug, Rashica

Heidenheim possible starting lineup:
Muller; Busch, Mainka, Beermann, Fohrenbach; Schnatterer, Griesbeck, Dorsch, Mohr; Otto, Kleindienst

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We say: Werder Bremen 2-0 Heidenheim

Heidenheim will be determined to pull off a shock result on Thursday night, but it is difficult to back against Bremen, who were excellent against Koln last time out. The home side have a lot of talent in the final third and should have too much for the second-tier outfit, who must stay in the contest ahead of the return fixture.

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Bayern Munich's Polish striker Robert Lewandowski scores the 1-0 goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match FC Bayern Munich vs Hanover 96 at the Allianz Arena in Munich, southern Germany on October 4, 2014
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