Werder Bremen, currently 14th in the Bundesliga table, battled second place RB Leipzig for 107 long minutes in Friday’s DFB-Pokal semifinal match. Despite the contrast in their league success, Bremen managed to keep the score of this riveting cup match at 0-0, eventually pushing the game into overtime.
They not only held the game at a tie, but they managed to threaten the goal with a handful of chances, including a penalty kick opportunity that was retracted by the referee after consulting VAR.
As a Bremen fan, I dared to hope, that is until the 93rd minute when Leipzig found the back of the net. With the momentum going Leipzig’s way and the drastic increase in pressure on Bremen to score, it seemed as though the green-and-white would be adding another defeat onto their rather depressingly long list (seven in a row in league play).
Would tenacity in DFB-Pokal pay off for Werder Bremen?
Thanks to some uncharacteristically sloppy defensive play on the part of Leipzig, Leonardo Bittencourt found himself storming through to goal, and with a collected touch around the goalkeeper, he lifted the ball into the back of the net past two recovering defenders.
And there went Bremen sending me on another emotional rollercoaster, as they seem to do without fail every season.
Leipzig continued relentlessly in attack, missing a few opportunities that had me holding my breath and shaking my head in a combination of relief and disbelief when they didn’t go in.
Yet as penalty kicks drew closer and closer, I allowed myself to hope again. Apparently, I’m a glutton for punishment because heartbreak was unsurprisingly in the cards once more.
Two minutes of extra time were added to overtime and as the seconds ticked away, a series of well-placed passes and excellent field vision led to a second Leipzig goal.
In fairness to Leipzig, the goal was well-deserved and, in the end, the better side won. As a Bremen fan, on the other hand …how dare Leipzig snatch the game away from a surprisingly cohesive Bremen side in a game where victory would have worked wonders for overall morale?
Had Bremen not performed as well as they did, head coach Florian Kohfeldt would have been gone by morning. Bremen now returns to league play desperately needing a win as they fight to stay alive in the Bundesliga.