By Mark Bennett
Werder Bremen captain Frank Baumann was furious after his side lost the home first leg of their UEFA Champions League last-16 tie against Olympique Lyonnais 3-0. "We've blown our chances of reaching the quarter-finals," he said. "Our Champions League season is basically over."
Baumann was suspended for the first leg at the Weserstadion, and watched on in horror as the French champions ran away with the tie. Striker Miroslav Klose concurred with his captain. "We should concentrate on the Bundesliga now," he said. "I don't think we can bounce back in Lyon."
But not everyone shares that view. "Being French I know the French mentality," Bremen defender Valérien Ismaël said. "If we can get an early goal they'll get nervous. We shouldn't write ourselves off yet." Striker Nelson Valdez told uefa.com: "I refuse to give up as long as we have hope."
Valdez will be a key player at the Stade Gerland. The Paraguayan has made a name for himself as something of a super-sub, but he is expected to keep his place on Tuesday as coach Thomas Schaaf, in all likelihood, sticks with the 4-3-3 formation which finished the first leg. A lot will depend on the fitness of Ivan Klasnic, who was a late omission through injury a fortnight ago. Klasnic's inclusion alongside Klose and Valdez, should he, as expected, recover from a calf problem, would offer some hope.
'Take a risk'
The switch to 4-3-3 after an hour did not work against Lyon, but it reaped rewards against Valencia CF on Matchday 2, when strikes from Klose and Angelos Charisteas brought Bremen victory after they had fallen behind. Klasnic is urging his coach to switch from his preferred 4-4-2 lineup and go for goal at the Stade Gerland. "You can't win anything in the Champions League if you're not willing to take a risk," he said.
Bremen are not in totally unchartered Champions League territory. They themselves recovered from 3-0 down against RSC Anderlecht in 1993 to win 5-3. And twice RC Deportivo La Coruña have bounced back after going three goals down, most impressively last season when they overturned a 4-1 first-leg defeat against champions AC Milan with a blistering 4-0 victory at the Riazor. In 2002, Liverpool FC came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with FC Basel 1893.
And then, of course, there's the 'Wonder of the Weser'. Can Bremen really, for a second time, win a tie against Lyon after losing the first leg 3-0 as they did in the 1999/00 edition of the UEFA Cup? Sporting director Klaus Allofs thinks so. "We've lost two games against Lyon 3-0 and won one 4-0. Let's wait and see what happens in Lyon.
I have not given up hope yet," he said. "No matter what they say they haven't forgotten the defeat against us either. If we can get an early goal we have a good chance of springing a surprise. We don't want to remember the Champions League with that 3-0 home defeat against Lyon."
Pride at stake
Asking history to repeat itself - and this time away from home - might be a bit much to ask. But pride runs deep at Bremen, and with the Bundesliga still to play for, if the German champions do bow out they will want to do so on a high. "We didn't do ourselves justice in the first leg and I want to see a better display in Lyon," Schaaf said. "The result in not the most important thing - our pride is at stake."
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