Team: SV Werder Bremen
Manager: Thomas Schaaf
Key Additions: Kevin De Bruyne (loanee), Assani Lukimya, Theodor Gebre Selassie, Eljero Elia, Nils Petersen (loanee)
2011-2012 Finish: Bundesliga 9th
2012-2013 Prediction: The last two seasons have been disappointing for Werder Bremen by their standards. They finished in 13th place in 2010-11, and last season they pulled themselves up to 9th place. It's tough to say even this was an accomplishment, because they only improved themselves by one point (42 to 41). They also scored the exact same number of goals, but they let it one less. So, I guess we can say they improved on the previous season, but it was so minimal that I don't want to count it. All eyes will be on the managerial position and Thomas Schaaf this season. The former Werder player has been in charge of the first team since May 1999.
(Remarkably, the 51 year old has been with Werder Bremen in some capacity since 1972 when he joined the youth academy as an 11 year old. He played from 1978-95 and made 281 appearances. He started coaching the youth sides at Bremen while still an active player. To say that Thomas Schaaf is a Werder man through and through is an understatement.)
It's tough to throw accusations of any sort around about Schaaf's position at Werder as he's managed to do quite well there. They've won the Bundesliga once, the DFB Pokal thrice and were runners-up of the UEFA Cup once and the DFB Pokal twice. They also managed to qualify for the Champions League for five straight seasons under Schaaf. The only reason I say he will be watched is if they get off to a poor start. Schaaf's contract was set to expire at the end of the upcoming season, but the board and he agreed to a one year extension through 2013-14. I don't think Schaaf is in any actual danger of being sacked, but I don't think he can risk a poor start to the season especially after they were eliminated in the DFB Pokal First Round for the second straight year by a 3.Liga side.
Werder has been very active in the transfer market this summer. First thing first, they must be praised for getting rid of Tim Wiese. Sebastian Mielitz will be the club's number one for the foreseeable future. I am not a fan of Wiese, so this automatically gets a thumbs up in my book. They did quite a good bit of business in selling Marko Marin to Chelsea. There is major worry with the club allowing Claudio Pizarro and Markus Rosenberg to leave. They were the club's leading goal scorers last season, and there is no direct replacements for them. Bringing in Kevin De Bruyne on loan from Chelsea is quite the shrewd bit of business, and I believe that the Belgian midfielder is already an upgrade on Marko Marin. The Czech left back Theodor Gebre Selassie is joining the club after a decent Euro 2012, and Eljero Elia will attempt to kickstart his career again after a disastrous spell at Juventus. Assani Lukimya is joining from Fortuna Düsseldorf and should strengthen the defense. The other departures include veterans Naldo and Tim Borowski.
I'm concerned for Werder. With Pizarro and Rosenberg leaving the club, that leaves Marko Arnautovic as the next highest goalscorer that is remaining at the club. Arnautovic only scored 6 goals last season and didn't feature that much for Werder. This is why my player to watch for the upcoming season is Nils Petersen. He is on loan from Bayern Munich for the entire season, and he will get his opportunities to start. Petersen only made 9 league appearances last season but did manage to score twice. Bayern signed after two outstanding seasons in the 2.Bundesliga with Energie Cottbus where he scored 35 goals in 56 appearances. Werder will be hoping that Petersen finds this goalscoring form for them this season.
A lot of the moves that Werder made this summer were very good and strengthened their squad for the upcoming campaign. They still haven't signed a forward, and it looks unlikely that they will. This does concern me due to the fact that at times last year if Pizarro wasn't scoring or assisting, there was no offense was being generated. I feel that the teams that finished around them last season strengthened their squad more this summer. Werder will finish in the top ten this year, but it won't be easy.