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Werder Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf has promised that his side will adopt an attacking approach as they begin their UEFA Champions League Group C campaign at home to Spanish champions FC Barcelona on Wednesday.
Barça may be one of the favourites for the competition but Schaaf is keen that his team should stick to their own game and not adopt a policy of containment or damage limitation. He said: "Our strength lies in our attacking ability. We proved that during last season's Champions League and it would be a mistake to set out a defensive stall against Barcelona."
Playing to win
Werder have made an impressive start to their German Bundesliga campaign, entering the game on the back of a 5-1 victory at 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Saturday. They have scored 13 goals, and three wins, in four matches and Schaaf is confident ahead of the Barcelona tie. He said: "Barcelona have the potential to win the tournament, which we have a great deal of respect for, but we have no fear of them. My side go into every game to win and I would not be satisfied with just one point."
However, his attacking intentions have received a blow with Germany forward Miroslav Klose, one half of the so-called 'K&K' strike force alongside Croatian Ivan Klasnić, suspended having collected a red card for two bookable offences against Swiss champions FC Basel 1893 in the second leg of Bremen's third qualifying round tie. Klose's absence will be particularly felt as he has scored five Bundesliga goals already this term.
But Schaaf is hopeful he has strength in reserve. He said: "Klose has proved over the last few weeks just how valuable he is but we do have other options - Nelson Valdez is likely to fill the gap left. His ability is clear and it's only the quality of Miroslav Klose and Ivan Klasnić that is keeping him out of the team."
Barcelona, continental champions in 1991/92, kick off their tenth Champions League season still seeking a first triumph in the competition in this guise. They are certainly among the favourites this time around, although captain Carles Puyol was keen to deflect such attention, saying: "There are many teams capable of winning the title, so we must give 100 per cent and try to win every game. It will be a difficult task."
Visiting coach Frank Rijkaard is not taking Bremen lightly. "They are an effective, attacking side and we will have to be well prepared to deal with their goalscoring threat," he said. "We have to come up with a solution to the heading ability within the Bremen ranks. We know our opponents and respect them."
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