After the surreal contrast of playing the first game in Burton-on-Trent and the second in Chicago, Aston Villa’s varied preseason road trip reaches it’s conclusion in Bremen, Germany. Since this will be Villa’s only European adventure of the season, here’s a quick guide to the main stuff you need to know about Villa’s opponents, especially if you’re making the trip.
By Elliot Sutcliffe
In 1899, sixteen students won some sports equipment as a prize for their good work at high school. From there, they founded a football club…
The name “Werder” is taken from the simple term in German used to describe “river peninsula”, relating to the river Weser, which the football club have always played alongside; from their first boggy stretch of grass to their 88-year-old current 42,000 capacity home, Westerstadion. Not all the population treasure their cities coastal history however, as only 15% of Bremen is free from annual flooding. However, there’s a dike and drainage system, so don’t worry about studying the Olympic swimming for tips, if you are going to the game, you should be just fine on foot. However, it does present a great opportunity for the Villa fan who swam the Trent last weekend, to do a notable back-to-back double of rivers, which surely should warrant some kind of medal!
Let’s be honest, as nice a city as Bremen is, us football fans don’t care about pretty buildings that have been around for centuries. On match day, we care about booze and banter. Well fortunately for us, Bremen is the home of the world-renowned Becks Brewery, which means it will taste even better over there!
Rather bizarrely, Bremen is twinned with Dudley…(anybody? How did that happen?!)
Werder also have a couple of intense rivalries, for their Ultra Group “The Infamous Youth” (which sounds more like a 70’s one hit-wonder pop group by their name) to sink their teeth into. The most interesting of which is their recent hatred of FC Schalke, who have poached a number of Bremen stars in recent years including legendary journeyman Ailton. The ridiculously overweight Brazilian striker endured his finest spell at Werder, remaining in the history books at the club for his tremendous goal tally, and his nickname “enfant terrible” due to his melodramatic and emotional interviews.
(Whilst we are not sure what’s going on during this video, it’s worth pondering how a man that size played professional football, let alone scored 88 goals in 169 games for Bremen!)
Werder Bremen have adopted that cute quirk of retiring the number 12 shirt for their fans but Bremen’s recent history is mostly down to club legend Thomas Schaaf. The enigmatic German is a true one-club man, who after joining Werder as an 11-year-old, has spent his entire playing/managerial career at Weserstadion. Despite losing star man Marko Marin the Chelsea, the blues were kind enough to loan their new £7m man Kevin De Bruyne to the club as a replacement, and he’s the one to look out for in the no.6 shirt.
The club as well as lifting the Cup Winners Cup back in 1992, have won the Bundesliga title most recently in 1988, 1993 and 2004. Last season though, Werder finished the 2011/12 season in 9th place.
What Villa Share With Werder
Intertoto Cup success! That legendary European competition was won by the German side in 1998 and the Villa in 2001, making this preseason encounter something of a ‘Intertoto Cup-Winners Cup Final’.
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