X) Werder Bremen v. Hannover 96

Jumping on a crowded bus bound for the Weserstadion, I was surrounded by Green from all angles.
One of the only port cities represented by a team in the Bundesliga, Werder Bremen fans are very proud of their origins but have to deal with stick from rivals about smelling of fish.
Die Grün-Weißen welcomed Hannover 96 to their city in desperate times, flirting with the relegation zone and needing points fast.
The aspect of this tie which surprised me the most was the police presence around the ground.
It was incredible. Officers stationed on massive horses were encircling the stadium, while foot police were also in abundance.
The ticket only cost me €15, an absolute bargain and yet again another example of how German football clubs cater for the working middle class and families.
Not only that, but yet again one side of the ground was exclusively for standing, and at the start of the match the whole 40,000 fans packed into the Weserstadion stood for the first opening minutes.

The atmosphere was electric, probably the best I have witnessed in Germany and rivalling that of a Newcastle United match.
Fans from all over the ground were singing and getting involved, while two drummers situated in the top tier of the standing section orchestrated chants.
Similar to 1860 games, there was also a leader of the pack, with his back to the game, directing the fans into a frenzy.
However given the size of the crowd, Bremen had not one but three marshals to ensure the whole crowd was getting involved.
Security personnel, or stewards, were all Bremen supporters and would engage with fans about the details of the match and the exploits of certain players.
They were there to ensure crowd trouble was avoided but acted more like fellow spectators, the only difference being that they were getting paid.

The game started brightly for Bremen with the fans roaring them along as they looked to stamp their mark on the game.
Marko Marin was looking dangerous and it was his run that set Pizarro free in the 9th minute, however the striker’s effort was well saved by Zieler.
Hannover took the lead against the run of play in the 26th minute with Silvestre at fault for failing to cut out Jan Schlaudraff’s pass to Didier Ya Konan.
Ya Konan received the ball and evaded further challenges from Silvestre and Mertesacker before finishing strongly past Sebastian Mielitz.
It was hard luck on Bremen who had earlier been denied a penalty when Manuel Schmiedebach appeared to clear Prodl’s header off the line with his arm.
The crowd got very restless after the setback, whistling the players when they held the ball between the back four and goalkeeper too long.
This only led to the Bremen eleven rushing passes and getting nervous as the pressure got to them.
The home side went into the break behind despite delivering 7 corners, yet their inability to provide a quality final ball let them down.

At half time I had time to inspect my surroundings more intently and noticed that there were not only a large amount of children at the match, but also teenage to mid-twenties girls.
It was great to see them get involved in the match and one could tell that Bremen was a passionate and family-orientated football club.
Another great discovery at the half time break was that I didn’t need to leave my seat in order to get a drink.
There were multiple workers with backpacks filled with either Gluwein or Bier which they would pour on request in the middle of the terraces.
Very convenient for the devout fan who doesn’t want to miss a second of the match.

Bremen started the second half strongly, with Marin chipping a brilliant ball through for Arnautovic, however his touch was too strong, allowing Emanuel Pogatetz to get back and block his eventual shot.
It wasn’t long before Mertesacker grabbed the equaliser though, using his aerial superiority to head home in the 48th minute.
Aaron Hunt sent in a free kick which Prodl flicked on for his defensive partner to rise and smash an accurate header past Zieler.
Cue wild celebrations and a return to the intense atmosphere witnessed at the beginning of the first half.
The top tier of the standing section started shouting “Werder”, while the bottom tier replied with “Bremen” for a good period as the stadium sensed a comeback in the air.
Marin was again playing architect and put Aaron Hunt clear of the defence in the 53rd minute, however the winger, who had an ordinary game, smashed his shot horribly wide.
The crowd were starting to get frustrated and when the referee refused to produce a yellow card for a foul from Schlaudraff they were calling for blood.
Now the focus turned from supporting their team to hurling abuse at the away support.
“Scheisse sechsundneunzig, Schiesse sechundneunzig!” While moments later both sets of fans took turns screaming their team’s name.
“Werder!”
“Die Roten!”
“Werder!”
“Die Roten!”
It perpetuated not only the rivalries in German football but also the mutual respect which exists between clubs.
A singing match between two sets of fans is an amazing spectacle to witness.

Deni Advic replaced Pizarro in the 64th minute as Bremen sought to find a winner, however the side just couldn’t get ahead in the final third of the pitch, despite increasing pressure.
This was accentuated when Bargfrede first had a shot almost go out for a corner and then Hunt hit a long shot that was nowhere near the goals.
As the minutes started ticking away the Werder standing support got the stadium animated, with their very own German version of “Stand up if you love Werder Bremen”.
Mielitz was called into action on the 80th minute, making a decent stop from Lars Stindl, though in truth it was the only attack Hannover managed from then on.
Three consecutive corners in the 85th minutes eventually came to nothing for the home side, while in the 88th minute Florian Trinks came into play and immediately made an impact.
The youngster floated in a great ball for Arnautovic, but Zieler managed to intercept the striker’s cutback into the box just in time.
In the dying minutes of the match, Zieler handled the ball outside box allowing Bremen one last chance to find a winner.
However Marin could only send the free kick just over in what was the last real chance of the match.

There was a bit of argy bargy at the final whistle, as the entertainment continued.
Hannover’s Schmiedebach took out Marin after the final whistle had been blown, with Bremen and Hannover players clashing in a pushing match.
Officials and management had to be called in to separate the scuffle, with Schmiedebach eventually receiving a yellow card with the incident only further inciting the angered Bremen fans.
The draw meant Bremen were spared from dropping into the relegation zone, however they are still sitting in a precarious position with two tough fixtures against fierce rivals Hamburg and title challengers Bayer Leverkusen.
Most of the support stayed behind to clap the players off for their efforts, though they will only remain patient for so long.
Points are needed and with not long to go in the season the club are in a real relegation battle at the moment.

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