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Madrid banking on Bremen defeat

Real Madrid CF will hope home advantage against Werder Bremen can help them end a sequence of losing starts in the UEFA Champions League group stage.

Diego is a leading light for Bremen
Diego is a leading light for Bremen ©Getty Images

Real Madrid CF will hope home advantage against Werder Bremen can help them end a sequence of losing starts in the UEFA Champions League group stage and set the right tone for an improved performance after recent disappointments in Europe. Visitors Bremen, for their part, go into their opening Group C fixture hoping for better luck on Spanish soil, where both their UEFA Champions League and UEFA Cup runs ended in 2006/07.

• The match will be Madrid's 300th in the European Champion Clubs' Cup. No team has played more games.

• Madrid suffered opening defeats away from home in each of the past three seasons. They lost 2-0 at Olympique Lyonnais in 2006, 3-0 against the same opponents in 2005, and in 2004 went down 3-0 at Bayer 04 Levekusen.

• The last time the Spanish club opened with a home fixture was also the last time they recorded a Matchday 1 victory, 4-2 against Olympique de Marseille in September 2003. That was the first step in a run to the quarter-finals but since the 2003/04 season, the Santiago Bernabéu side have gone no further than the first knockout round.

• Madrid's European campaign last term ended in Germany with defeat by FC Bayern München.

• Mark van Bommel's 88th-minute strike in the first leg in the Spanish capital proved ultimately decisive for a Bayern team who had been trailing 3-1 to goals from Raúl González (2) and Ruud van Nistelrooy. Bayern turned around the 3-2 deficit in Munich through goals from Roy Makaay and Lucio and despite a late Van Nistelrooy penalty, Madrid went out on the away-goals rule.

• The Merengues had progressed to the last 16 as the second-placed team in their group behind Lyon, having recorded three wins, two draws and one defeat.

• Bremen managed ten points in last season’s group stage but still finished third behind Chelsea FC and FC Barcelona, their hopes foundering on a 2-0 reverse at Barcelona on Matchday 6. It was the first time they had failed to negotiate the group stage following appearances in the first knockout round in 2004/05 and 2005/06.

• The 2005/06 Bundesliga runners-up then went into the UEFA Cup where they overcame AFC Ajax, RC Celta de Vigo and AZ Alkmaar prior to a semi-final loss to RCD Espanyol – home and away defeats spelling a 5-1 aggregate defeat.

• Bremen finished third in the Bundesliga in 2006/07 and secured their return to the UEFA Champions League group stage by defeating NK Dinamo Zagreb in the third qualifying round. Goals from Hugo Almeida and Daniel Jensen earned the German side a 2-1 first-leg win after they had fallen behind to Boško Balaban's opener for the visitors. They then won the return 3-2 through two Diego penalties and a Boubacar Sanogo strike to secure a 5-3 aggregate success.

• Madrid qualified for the group stage directly as Spanish champions.

• These sides have never met before but Madrid have an excellent home record against German opponents, which reads 16 wins, three draws and two defeats from 21 matches.

• Bremen have recorded six defeats and only two victories in eight previous visits to Spain. One of those two successes came at Celta last season where Hugo Almeida scored the only goal in a UEFA Cup Round of 16 match.

• Madrid coach Bernd Schuster is German and played 21 times for the West Germany national team. The Madrid squad features German international defender Christoph Metzelder, who joined the club from Borussia Dortmund in July.

• As a player with Bremen, their coach Thomas Schaaf was in the team beaten 2-0 at Club Atlético de Madrid in the first round of the 1986/87 UEFA Cup, en route to a 3-2 aggregate reverse.

• Madrid new boys Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder both faced Bremen in the colours of their respective old clubs, Chelsea and Ajax, last season.

• One of Bremen's new faces this summer, Carlos Alberto, scored FC Porto's opening goal in their 3-0 UEFA Champions League final victory over AS Monaco FC in 2004.