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Captain Frank Baumann knows a rousing weekend win in the Bundesliga will prove a more telling indicator of Werder Bremen's chances of defeating Panathinaikos FC on Tuesday than a 5-1 UEFA Champions League defeat of the Greek side the last time they visited the Weserstadion three years ago.
The 33-year-old is one of six survivors in the Bremen ranks from that night in December 2005, when the German club were reliant on FC Barcelona scoring late on at Udinese Calcio to join the eventual winners in the knockout stages. Qualification this time around remains very much in Werder's hands, and they go into their fourth Group B fixture on a high after ending a run of six games without a victory in fine style at home to Hertha BSC Berlin on Saturday.
"The win against Hertha was very important," Baumann said. "We've had a rough spell in recent weeks and have not been getting the results we've wanted. The 5-1 victory against Hertha has boosted our confidence and hopefully we can take that into the Panathinaikos match. We really got into the game against Berlin early and look what happened. Now we need to dictate the pace and put Panathinaikos under pressure without taking too many risks at the back. We must put determination first and then everything else will fall into place."
The sides have already had an opportunity to size each other up having drawn 2-2 in Greece a fortnight ago when Bremen needed an 83rd-minute Hugo Almeida equaliser to remain third in the section on three points – two more than Panathinaikos but one adrift of Anorthosis Famagusta FC and four behind pacesetters FC Internazionale Milano. "Panathinaikos have some excellent players and they were extremely aggressive two weeks ago," Baumann continued. "Given the situation in the group, I expect them to be just as aggressive here."
Meanwhile, Vangelis Mantzios, who scored both of the Athenian club's goals in the Greek capital, has urged the visitors to prove their mettle as they look to rise up the table. "Werder scoring five goals in their last match could be good for us because we'll all know that we have to be extremely careful and concentrate on the task at hand," said the Greece forward.
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