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Werder Bremen and the Bundesliga – it’s the place to see goals!

Graham Fisher in Bundesliga, Editorial 14 Oct 2008

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I saw a statistic that amazed me the other day. There is a constant debate about which is the best league in Europe and it usually comes down to a choice between the Premier League and La Liga. Serie A gets the occasional mention but that’s about it.

Ten of thirteen winners

The fact is, of course, that many of the World’s best players do play in those three leagues. It is also a fact that those three countries have produced many more Champions League finalists than any other and they have provided ten of the last thirteen winners of that competition.

So which one of the leagues is actually the most entertaining to watch? We now come to that amazing statistic. Apparently, the German Bundesliga has been Europe’s highest scoring league for the past seventeen seasons in a row. If entertainment equates to goals, then your answer about which league is the most entertaining is right there in that statistic.

Remarkable team

Within the Bundesliga sits one quite remarkable team. If you had watched every Werder Bremen home game in the Bundesliga over the past five years, you would have seen an average of over three goals per game.

Bremen’s coach Thomas Schaaf seems to adopt a style of play that would terrify and horrify the defensive purists in the footballing world, but must be very entertaining to watch. It seems to work in the Bundesliga and he has kept them in the top three for five seasons in a row, finishing, third twice, second twice and winning the title in 2004.

Cavalier approach

The cavalier approach hasn’t proved to be so successful in Europe as they haven’t yet made it through to a Champions League quarter-final. In this season’s competition a disappointing 0-0 draw at home to Anorthosis Famagusta, despite having more than twenty attempts on goal, was followed by a creditable 1-1 draw at Inter. They are still on course to do OK in this year’s tournament.

In the Bundesliga this season things are following a familiar pattern. An amazing 5-2 away win at Bayern Munich was followed by an even more amazing 5-4 win over TSG Hoffenheim. Following those victories they went to Stuttgart with high hopes and proceeded to go down 4-1. That now means that there have been an astonishing thirty-five goals in their seven league games so far!

Couldn’t buy a goal

Werder Bremen seem to score lots of goals whoever is playing for the team. This season Claudio Pizarro is on loan from Chelsea, for whom he couldn’t buy a goal, and has already scored five goals in his nine appearances in all competitions.

It must be great to be Werder Bremen fan as it seems that not many people have a bad word to say about them. It is apparently known for its sensible approach to the game. In contrast to many other teams around Germany and beyond, where the local sides are often subject to intense media attention, players and staff at Bremen are usually left in relative peace. The club’s reputation is that of sensible, respected and financially healthy club and it is said, is often the favourite second team for fans of many other clubs.

Enjoying

With average attendances generally rising and now pushing nearly forty thousand, the public of Bremen are obviously enjoying what they are being presented with. When Schaaf took over in May 1999, crowds were averaging less than thirty thousand and the team were sliding towards relegation. He halted that slide and the club haven’t looked back since. He has led them to two domestic cups as well as the Bundesliga title and to the last sixteen in the Champions League twice and the semi-final of the Uefa Cup.

The manager is one of those very rare ‘one club men’. He is forty-seven years old and has been at Bremen since he was eleven. He was a youth team player, first-team player, youth team manager and reserve team manager before stepping up to the main job. He won the German manager of the year award in 2004 and was named as the best manager of the future by the Spanish newspaper AS.

If you want to see goals

So there we have it. Forget Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, The San Siro, The Bernabau or the Camp Nou, if you want to see goals, get yourself along to the Weserstadion in Bremen. That, it seems, is the place to be if you want real entertainment.

They currently sit seventh in the league table and whatever you do, don’t bet against them making the top three once again. Even if they don’t, I get the feeling that their fans are going to enjoy the ride!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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