Werder Bremen v Bayer Leverkusen -Weserstadion at 17:30 live on BT Sport 3

Three wins in Werder Bremen’s final five Bundesliga matches in 2015/16 saw the River Islanders conclude their campaign two points above the relegation play-off place in a reasonably lofty 13th, but it really could have been a lot worse.

Bremen were never above 13th from October onwards and heading into May and the final three fixtures, Viktor Skrypnyk’ side looked highly unlikely to avoid finishing in the bottom-three.

German champions 12 years ago, Werder have struggled to hit those heights since a runners-up medal in 2008. In fact, the most recent years have been particularly hard for the Green-Whites, pinpointed around a hopeless defence.

The River Islanders recorded the Bundesliga’s worst defensive record in 2014/15 and returned the league’s second-worst defence last time out. It was an area Bremen desperately needed to improve upon but Skrypnyk – marking 20 years at the club in some capacity – was unable to solve the glaring equation.

A Nouri dawn for Bremen?

Having made a pointless start from their first four outings this term – by an aggregate 3-14 – sporting director Frank Baumann decided to cut his losses and axed Skrypnyk. U23 head coach Alexander Nouri was given the role on a temporary basis.

Having galvanised the group, Nouri’s led Werder to four points from a possible six by beating Wolfsburg 2-1 in an incredibly dramatic finale, before a 2-2 draw at Darmstadt ahead of the international break. In both encounters, Bremen were better across all performance metrics than their opposition.

Leverkusen’s slow start

Visitors Leverkusen completed their 2015/16 season in style, winning eight of their final outings to confirm third-place. Bayer however began this term sluggishly, losing two of their first three.

Roger Schmidt’s since rallied the troops and Die Werkself bagged back-to-back victories before the break, including an impressive and deserved 2-0 triumph when welcoming Dortmund to the BayArena.

On their travels, Leverkusen have W9-D3-L8 since the start of last season, but that return improves to W6-D3-L0 when away to bottom-half finishers. The guests have relied on Javier Hernandez’s clinical finishing in attack, as defensively Bayer have managed just two shutouts this term.

With eyes potentially on Tuesday’s Champions League tussle with Spurs, there might be reason to oppose Leverkusen on Saturday. Bar the Dortmund win, the visitors have often flattered to deceive, looking particularly fragile at the back.

Asian Handicap angle

But with Bremen suffering from the same defensive strife, it’s worth looking outside of the main Asian Handicap line. For example, there’s 2.06 available on the hosts with a +0.25 start on the fist-half Asian Handicap – a decent ploy considering Werder haven’t trailed in any of their last 11 Bundesliga battles at their Weserstadion home at the interval.

Despite their unblemished road record at bottom-half teams mentioned above, Leverkusen have only led at the break in four of those nine away days and a new-look, confident Bremen outfit should be capable of staying in this contest.

Get with the goals

Elsewhere, it’s difficult to resist a goals-based bet with over 2.75 Goals standing out at 1.79. The past six meetings between these two teams have broken the two-goal barrier, whilst a huge 29/40 (73%) of Werder fixtures have featured at least three goals since the start of last season.

The River Islanders have notched in each of their last five since an opening day thumping at Bayern Munich, but shipped two goals or more in five of their six duels this term. Leverkusen have leaked at least twice in each of their last five away league games.

Bayer have been busy in the goals market this season – three of their past seven matches have featured four goals or more, whilst including the back-end of 2015/16, eight of their most recent 10 road trips have delivered in the over 2.5 Goals market.

Asian Handicap Recommendations: Werder Bremen +0.25 first-half Asian Handicap at 2.06 & Over 2.75 Goals at 1.79

Prices correct at time of writing.

By @MarkOHaire

Join Eastbridge Soccer Betting Broker for the best prices and liquidity on the Bundesliga.

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