Last season Werder Bremen had the toughest possible start to their UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures - a meeting with eventual winners FC Barcelona. They lost 2-0, and the scoreline was the same when they began at Chelsea FC this time around. But there is no let-up for the Bundesliga side, as Barça visit the Weserstadion again on Wednesday: a tough break for a Bremen team that has progressed to the Round of 16 in the last two campaigns.
Bremen defender Petri Pasanen is well aware of Barcelona's strengths. He was in the side that suffered that Matchday 1 loss in 2005/06 as Deco and Ronaldinho found the target. But the Finnish international has belief. "Last year we played well at home against Barcelona," he told uefa.com. "I expect us to do so again this year. We normally are strong at home."
They will need to be. With Barcelona having stormed past PFC Levski Sofia 5-0 while Bremen were losing at Stamford Bridge, another blank for Pasanen's team could leave them with a six-point deficit to make up if they are to continue in this competition after Christmas. "It is already a big match," the 26-year-old said, before adding that his side are ready for the challenge following the encounter 12 months ago. "It is the same for Barcelona - they won't be surprised by what we can do, as they remember what happened last year, although they won. We need points though."
Points were what was missing from their visit to London, where Bremen were far from outplayed by the likes of Michael Ballack and Andriy Shevchenko. "I think we could have achieved a little bit more, got a point or something, but that's Chelsea," Pasanen said. "We kept them at bay but we could have done a little bit more."
Pasanen, who helped deny all-time European Champion Clubs' Cup leading scorer Shevchenko a goal on his tournament debut for Chelsea, feels his own performance could help keep his berth in the Bremen lineup, having flitted in and out of the team over the last season. "I feel OK, I think I've saved my place," he said. "It wasn't the first time I've been up against Shevchenko, and you have to be careful with these fellows. I hadn't played at Stamford Bridge before, though, so that was an experience for me."
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