Bremen are bustling with energy ahead of the trip to FC Bayern München having recorded their first UEFA Champions League victory of the season in exhilarating fashion on Wednesday, Udinese Calcio defeated by the odd goal in seven at a thronging Weserstadion. Valdez, the Paraguayan striker who started the match in place of the hospitalised Ivan Klasnić and set up two goals, told uefa.com: "We played fantastic football in the first half against Udinese and we have got every chance of beating Bayern if we play that way on Saturday."
Even though Klasnić's absence for at least a fortnight following surgery on an inflamed appendix has handed Valdez a further chance to impress, the 22-year-old feels for his stricken team-mate. "Ivan is one of my best friends so obviously I feel for him," said Valdez. "But I will do my very best to prove myself a worthy replacement." Bayern's midweek UEFA Champions League outing was not so productive as they went down 2-1 at Juventus, but Felix Magath's side are still well placed to advanced from Group A.
With Bayern having been knocked off top spot by the Bianconeri in that section, and their Bundesliga supremacy under threat too, Bremen general manager Klaus Allofs is fully aware of the challenge his team will face in Munich. "Nobody thought that the match against Udinese would produce seven goals and it is very hard to predict what will happen in football," he told uefa.com. "But Bayern lost and that could make them even more dangerous than they already are."
Bremen's cause could be aided by injuries to two of Bayern's key performers: Michael Ballack picked up a thigh injury in Italy and Mehmet Scholl has a stomach problem; both missed training on Thursday. Roy Makaay is also without a goal since August and in desperate need of rediscovering his touch. "Roy has a problem in his head," said Magath. "He missed a chance against Juventus that he would have taken before without doubt, although his place is not under question."
Yet the coach saw plenty of positives in Bayern's loss at the Stadio Delle Alpi, and hopes to take them into Saturday's blockbuster. "I can't question my players' attitude against Juventus," said Magath, whose side have won all five of their home Bundesliga matches at the Arena without conceding. "We were determined to win the match and kept pushing players forward but didn't defend well on two occasions. Hopefully that will change against Bremen."
That defensive record owes much to the solidity of Valérien Ismaël and Lucio, with the Frenchman and Brazilian having formed a magnificent partnership since the former's arrival from Bremen in the summer. Ismaël, in particular, is relishing Saturday's encounter. "Obviously it's a special match for me because I had two great years in Bremen," he said. "But that doesn't change the fact that I am a Bayern player now and want to maintain our record of not conceding at the new stadium."
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