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Werder Bremen midfielder Torsten Frings believes his side will not repeat the mistakes that nearly threw away victory against Udinese Calcio three and a half years ago when the Italian side visit the Weserstadion again on Thursday.
Minutes of madness
In a memorable UEFA Champions League group-stage game in November 2005, Bremen took a three-goal lead before seeing that advantage wiped out during six minutes of madness, before eventually squeezing out a 4-3 victory thanks to a Johan Micoud volley. Frings played in that game and is determined to make sure there is no repeat of the defensive lapses in the first leg of the UEFA Cup quarter-finals.
"It's a happy memory for me in that we won, but it was a tough game because we had a dip in concentration at 3-0 and conceded those three goals – and this absolutely mustn't happen again," the German international said. "The important thing for us is that there definitely mustn't be the slightest distraction. We have to concentrate for the whole 90 minutes and I'm sure that we'll do that. It's the only way to eliminate an opponent like this."
Bremen head into the game having never lost at home to an Italian team and this season beat FC Internazionale Milano 2-1 here in their last UEFA Champions League group game before eliminating city rivals AC Milan from this competition on away goals. For a change, Frings and his men do not find themselves cast as the underdogs against Serie A opposition. "I'm very optimistic – it's the first time we've been the favourites," the 32-year-old said, "but we mustn't make the mistake of underrating Udinese. We're going to have to play two excellent games against them to get through to the next round. We mustn't forget the fact that they have already knocked out the holders in this competition, [FC] Zenit St. Petersburg."
Along with home advantage, Bremen can also point to some fine knockout form so far this term. Though they are mid-table in the Bundesliga, Frings and his men are through to the semi-finals of the German Cup as well as the last eight of this competition. "
It's true that this season, when we're in a game where everything is at stake, that's when we produce our best performances," Frings said. "We can still achieve a lot this season and we will be going all out to try and do just that."
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