SV Werder Bremen have turned from a problem child into a serious title candidate this season. This is not only due to newcomer Omar Assar, but also to a new mentality. Part two of our team presentations before the Liebherr Pokal-Finale on January 6, 2018.

Dimitrij Ovtcharov

Finally a reason to cheer: Bastian Steger (Photo: Walden)

The season of SV Werder Bremen is going according to plan so far this year. Finally, one is inclined to add. Because in the years before, that often looked different. Last season, for example, when Bremen relinquished the international competition to focus on the Tischtennis Bundesliga (TTBL) and the cup, the team of coach Cristian Tamas lost sight of their goals quite early. In the cup they were beaten in the quarter-finals by the second division club TV Hilpoltstein, in the league they only took a disappointing eighth place – miles away from the targeted play-offs.

Now, in December 2017, Bremen is ranked second in the league table and will be in the Liebherr Pokal-Finale on January 6, 2018. So what happened? Newcomer Omar Assar recently tried to analyze the sitiation the club's channel Werder.TV, stating: "The difference this season is that we look at each match separately and give a 110 percent each time," said the Egyptian, who transfered from France to the Weser this summer. "In recent years, I had the impression that the goals in Bremen were too high. They wanted to win the league, win the cup – sometimes you just lose the focus for the small details then."

Bremen's focus seems to be corrected now. And so, Werder now convince with a quality that they had been missing the years before, especially last season. Back then, top player Bastian Steger was sidelined for months due to a foot injury and was being missed badly. The 36-year-old is of course still important, but no longer indispensable. Bremen also convince as a team.

Steger: "Can beat anyone"

This became particularly obvious in first round of the cup, when Bremen without Steger was facing an enormous task against last year's runner-up Fulda. But Hunor Szöcs took the spot. The 25-year-old defeated Wang Xi and Ruwen Filus without losing a single game and led Werder into the quarter-finals. "I think that this season we have a very, very strong team that can beat anyone," said Steger, who is leading the team-internal ranking with a record of 12-6. "That's why we are in the Final Four for a good reason and of course want to be be successful in the league was well."

Bremen lost the last encounter with Borussia Düsseldorf just 2-3, but are unbeaten since matchday 7. Certainly not the worst premise for a duel with Timo Boll and Co. in the Final Four on January 6.

Bremen's line-up in Neu-Ulm

1. Bastian Steger GER (Age: 36, TTBL record: 12-6, World Ranking: 30.)
2. Omar Assar EGY (26, 5-6, 26.)
3. Hunor Szöcs ROU (25, 6-4, 88.)
4. Florent Lambiet BEL (21, 1-1, 174.)