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

Sports Mole previews Sunday's match between Werder Bremen and Hoffenheim, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Werder Bremen host Hoffenheim as the 2020-21 Bundesliga season continues, with both sides sitting just outside the Europa League qualification places at this early stage of proceedings.

Bremen, who narrowly avoided relegation last season, will be looking to gain revenge on their opponents having lost both meetings last season.


Match preview

Werder Bremen manager Florian Kohfeldt pictured in July 2020© Reuters

Florian Kohfeldt's side look much improved on last season having taken seven points from their last three matches, with Niclas Fullkrug's fourth goal in as many matches earning Bremen a point at Freiburg last weekend.

The 27-year-old striker missed almost the entirety of last season after rupturing his cruciate ligament only a few weeks after signing from Hannover, which was a major factor for Bremen having to endure the nightmare of Germany's relegation playoff at the end of last season.

Bremen preserved their top flight status, which impressively stretches all the way back to 1981, by the skin of their teeth after drawing 2-2 to Heidenheim across two legs. Away goal deciders are not everyone's cup of tea in football, but it is certainly popular in Bremen for the foreseeable future.

With Leonardo Bittencourt in top form so far this season, winning the penalty which Fullkrug converted at Freiburg, Die Werderaner fans can be hopeful of a much better showing this time around after a positive start.

Hoffenheim manager Sebastian Hoeness celebrates with his players after their victory over Bayern Munich on September 27, 2020© Reuters

Hoffenheim, meanwhile, shocked the world with a 4-1 win against Bayern Munich earlier in the campaign, but without star striker Andrej Kramaric - forced to quarantine due to coronavirus since the international break - they could not repeat their magic when falling 1-0 at home to Borussia Dortmund at the weekend.

Mijat Gacinovic should have opened the scoring for the hosts in the opening exchanges, missing on the stretch from eight yards after a fine cross from Robert Skov, but Dortmund dominated the rest of the match and were deserved winners.

Sebastian Hoeness will have been encouraged by his side's 2-0 win against Red Star Belgrade in the Europa League in midweek, though, in what is only the club's third European campaign. With Gent and Slovan Liberec the other sides in Group L, Die Kraichgauer can be hopeful of topping the group.

Munas Dabbur scored late in the match to seal the three points, and Hoeness will need him in top form until Kramaric's return in order to avoid a third consecutive league defeat.

Werder Bremen Bundesliga form: LWWD
Werder Bremen form (all competitions): WLWWD

Hoffenheim Bundesliga form: WWLL
Hoffenheim form (all competitions): WWWLLW


Team News

Milot Rashica in action for Werder Bremen on June 27, 2020© Reuters

Having missed the first three games of the new season with a knee problem, Bremen's top goalscorer in the last two campaigns Milot Rashica played 24 minutes in the draw with Freiburg and could earn his first start of the season if Kohfeldt deems him fit enough.

With Ludwig Augustinsson out with a thigh strain, the Bremen boss could revert to a back four in order to accommodate Rashica into the starting XI. Felix Agu and Tahith Chong are unavailable due to coronavirus, with Patrick Erras out with a hamstring strain.

Kramaric is one of three Hoffenheim players currently quarantining due to coronavirus, with Kasim Adams and Pavel Kaderabek also unavailable. Ermin Bicakcic and Kostas Stafylidis are out through injury.

After scoring in midweek, Dabbur should return to the starting lineup alongside Christoph Baumgartner, with both only used as substitutes in the defeat to Dortmund.

Werder Bremen possible starting lineup:
Pavienka; Gebre-Selassie, Veljkovic, Moisander, Friedl; Eggestein, Mborn, Bittencourt; Sargent, Fullkrug, Rashica

Hoffenheim possible starting lineup:
Baumann; Posch, Vogt, Akpoguma; Rudy, Samassekou, Geiger, Skov; Baumgartner, Dabbur, Belfodil


SM words green background

We say: Werder Bremen 2-1 Hoffenheim

With Hoffenheim playing in Europe in midweek, Bremen will be the fresher of the two sides and are also in better form with fewer players missing. As such, we think they may have enough to earn a win against a side who look vulnerable without the excellence of Kramaric in attack.


Top betting tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data

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Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring his fourth goal on October 4, 2020
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Friday's key events


ATHLETICS
· The athletics schedule begins, with 100m sprinter Dina Asher-Smith among the names in action on the opening day. The men's 10,000m final concludes the action, with Team GB's Sam Atkin and Marc Scott taking part in the absence of 2012 and 2016 champion Sir Mo Farah (1am-2.30pm)

ROWING
· Victoria Thornley is Team GB's representative in the women's single sculls final (1.33am)
· Great Britain will be going for gold in the men's eight final (2.25am)

SWIMMING
· Team GB duo Molly Renshaw and Abbie Wood take part in the women's 200m breaststroke final, but new Olympic record-holder Tatjana Schoenmaker of South Africa is the hot favourite (2.41am)
· Luke Greenbank has very realistic ambitions of picking up a medal in the men's 200m backstroke final (2.50am)
· There is also British representation in the women's 100m freestyle final, although any medal for Anna Hopkin would be a surprise (2.59am)
· With one gold and one silver already under his belt at these Games, Duncan Scott goes again in the men's 200m individual medley final (3.16am)

TRAMPOLINE
· Bryony Page will be looking to repeat her 2016 heroics in the women's event (5am-7.30pm)

CANOE SLALOM
· Bradley Forbes-Cryans will be looking to emulate Rio gold medallist Joe Clarke in the men's kayak event (6am-9am)

FOOTBALL
· The women's tournament enters the quarter-finals, with Great Britain facing Australia at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium (10am)

> Today's schedule in full
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