Werder Bremen host Stuttgart in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
Both sides drew in the 2022-23 season’s opening weekend last time out, so they will be hoping to record their first victory of the season when they face each other.
After gaining promotion last season following their first relegation for 31 years, Ole Werner will be more than satisfied with his team avoiding defeat away to Wolfsburg last weekend.
This is especially true after his side suffered an early setback via Lukas Nmecha‘s early strike, with the former Manchester City striker daintily lifting the ball over the onrushing Jiri Pavlenka following debutant Patrick Wimmer‘s superb slide-rule pass.
However, Niclas Fullkrug – who scored Bremen’s last Bundesliga goal as well as the one which earned them promotion last season – hit back with a superbly bent shot from range, before Leonardo Bittencourt displayed all of his neck muscles by heading home Marvin Ducksch‘s cross despite facing his own goal when making contact.
Pavlenka kept his side ahead after the half-time interval by rushing out to deny Jakub Kaminski from a tight angle, but Werner’s side could not hold on for all three points as substitute Joshua Guilavogui rescued the hosts with only six minutes of normal time remaining.
Werner will hope that his side can go one better with a victory against Stuttgart this weekend.
Stuttgart, meanwhile, avoided the dreaded relegation playoff by virtue of goal difference last season, so Pellegrino Matarazzo will be encouraged by gaining a draw against RB Leipzig on the opening day.
Die Roten’s efforts this season may not be helped by one end of their stadium resembling a building site with the club expanding the Mercedes-Benz Arena, but it did them no harm last weekend when holding the DFB-Pokal winners to a 1-1 draw.
That result did not look likely after Christopher Nkunku picked up from where he left off last season by ruthlessly firing the ball across goal and into the bottom corner to provide the visitors with an early eighth-minute lead, but Naouirou Ahamada displayed technique and composure beyond his years to level the proceedings with a finessed strike from distance.
Goalkeeper Florian Muller was in inspired form after the break, denying Nkunku from close range before sparing his best save for last as Willi Orban‘s bullet header was somehow clawed away by the 24-year-old stopper.
Ahamada’s equaliser came after an excellent one-two with striker Sasa Kalajdzic, who has been linked with a move to Manchester United in recent days.
Matarazzo will be determined to keep his squad settled as they look to improve on last season’s disappointing 15th-placed finish, with Saturday’s trip to Bremen presenting an excellent opportunity to pick up three more points.
Concerningly for Werner and Bremen, Fullkrug picked up a knock in the draw at Wolfsburg and is a doubt to start here.
Oliver Burke, who joined on a free transfer from Sheffield United in the summer, could make his first start for the club should Fullkrug be forced to miss out.
Otherwise, Werner is unlikely to make any changes, especially with Jean Manuel Mbom, Romano Schmid, Eren Dinkci and Benjamin Goller still all ruled out.
Stuttgart, meanwhile, remain without key winger Tanguy Coulibaly due to a toe injury.
After an excellent result against Leipzig, Matarazzo is unlikely to make any changes, meaning that Man Utd-linked Kalajdzic will lead the line barring any major transfer developments.
Borna Sosa remains a doubt as he looks to gain match fitness, with Florian Schock, Thomas Kastanaras and Nikolas Nartey all unlikely to make the trip, too.
Werder Bremen possible starting lineup:
Pavlenka; Pieper, Veljkovic, Friedl; Weiser, Bittencourt, Groß, Stage, Jung; Burke, Ducksch
Stuttgart possible starting lineup:
Muller; Mavropanos, Anton, Ito; Vagnoman, Fuhrich, Endo, Ahamada, Mvumpa; Kalajdzic, Tomas