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Bremen’s Bundesliga future on edge after 0-0 with Heidenheim

Werder Bremen's Bundesliga future remained in doubt after being held to a 0-0 draw by second-division Heidenheim in the first leg of their relegation-promotion playoff on Thursday.

Bremen, which finished third from bottom in the top division, will have to do without captain Niklas Moisander for the second leg on Monday after he was sent off late with his second yellow card for a poor challenge.

Florian Kohfeldt’s side was relieved not to concede in injury time when Heidenheim defender Timo Beermann headed just wide from Marc Schnatterer’s corner.

Bremen's Milot Rashica, left, Heidenheim's goalkeeper Kevin Mueller and Heidenheim's Jonas Feohrenbach, right, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga relegation first leg soccer match between Werder Bremen and 1. FC Heidenheim in Bremen, Germany, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

It was the closest either side came to scoring in a game of few opportunities played in heavy rain from a summer thunderstorm.

Heidenheim, based in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwestern Germany, is bidding to reach the Bundesliga for the first time. The team has been coached by Frank Schmidt since 2007, making the 46-year-old the longest serving coach at one team in Germany.

Schmidt previously played for the club and took over as coach on an interim basis when Heidenheim was playing at the local fifth-tier Oberliga level. The team earned promotion in Schmidt’s first season and won the fourth-tier regional league for promotion to the third division in his second. Five seasons later, Heidenheim won the third division for promotion to the second. This is the club’s first shot at playing in the top division.

Bremen's Milot Rashica, left, and Heidenheim's goalkeeper Kevin Mueller challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga relegation first leg soccer match between Werder Bremen and 1. FC Heidenheim in Bremen, Germany, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

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Bremen's players leave the pitch after the German Bundesliga relegation first leg soccer match between Werder Bremen and 1. FC Heidenheim in Bremen, Germany, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

The board shows the result in heavy rain during the German Bundesliga relegation first leg soccer match between Werder Bremen and 1. FC Heidenheim in Bremen, Germany, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

Bremen's Theodor Gebre Selassie, up, and Heidenheim's Timo Beermann, center, challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga relegation first leg soccer match between Werder Bremen and 1. FC Heidenheim in Bremen, Germany, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)

Bremen's Milot Rashica, left, and Heidenheim's Marnon Busch challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga relegation first leg soccer match between Werder Bremen and 1. FC Heidenheim in Bremen, Germany, Thursday, July 2, 2020. Because of the coronavirus outbreak all soccer matches of the German Bundesliga take place without spectators. (AP PhotoMartin Meissner, Pool)