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Bremen draw on past glory

Published: Wednesday 23 February 2005, 23.00CET
History gives Werder Bremen faint hope despite their 3-0 defeat by Olympique Lyonnais.

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Published: Wednesday 23 February 2005, 23.00CET

Bremen draw on past glory

History gives Werder Bremen faint hope despite their 3-0 defeat by Olympique Lyonnais.

By Greg Duke

Olympique Lyonnais appear to have one foot firmly in the draw for the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League after a convincing 3-0 victory at Werder Bremen, yet past statistics show that Paul Le Guen's side are not yet formalities for a place in the last eight.

First meeting
Although the two sides had never met before in this competition, they did face each other in the 1999/00 UEFA Cup, and if that encounter is anything to go by, then Bremen's passionate supporters can cling on to some faint hope that they can continue their progress in this season's Champions League.

Lyon hosts
That encounter was also a two-legged affair, with the only difference being the first leg was played at Lyon's Stade Gerland, rather than the Weserstadion, and the French side took full advantage. Just as on Wednesday, Lyon came away with a comfortable 3-0 win, thanks to a double from Brazilian striker Sonny Anderson and a goal from Tony Vairelles.

Remarkable comeback
However, a fortnight later, Bremen performed one of the greatest comebacks in UEFA Cup history, overturning that three-goal deficit by winning the second leg 4-0 with Claudio Pizarro, who scored twice for FC Bayern München in their 3-1 win over Arsenal FC on Tuesday, scoring the decisive goal with just 13 minutes remaining.

Solid defence
Despite history being in their favour, the chances still appear remote for Thomas Schaff to lead his German champions to another sensational 4-3 aggregate victory. The obvious difference is that Lyon will be at home this time around, and Bremen will have to do something that no other team has managed to do so far this season, score more than two goals at the Stade Gerland. In fact, only Manchester United FC, in a 2-2 draw during the group stage, have scored more than one goal as the visiting side.

Coupet survivor
With goalkeeper Grégory Coupet, the only Lyon survivor from that first encounter, marshalling his defence so superbly, it would take a brave man to forecast anything other than a Lyon aggregate win next month.

Hope not lost
But all hope is not lost for Bremen, and if their players and fans alike believe they have an impossible job to qualify, they can gain some inspiration from the exploits of Bundesliga rivals VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. Exactly 30 years ago Mönchengladbach visited Lyon in the UEFA Cup and came away with a 5-2 victory, and a repeat of that scoreline would see Bremen go through on the away goals rule.

Last updated: 24/02/05 11.08CET