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Schuster awaits the birth of a dream

Bernd Schuster is relishing the chance to get "closer to my dream" as he prepares to lead out Real Madrid CF for their Group C encounter with Werder Bremen.

Bernd Schuster is relishing the chance to get "closer to my dream" as he prepares to take his bow in the UEFA Champions League group stage, leading out Real Madrid CF for a mouthwatering Group C meeting with Werder Bremen at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Historic night
Madrid approach their 300th European Champion Clubs' Cup fixture in fine fettle having won all three of their Primera División matches so far, and Schuster is keen for that form to continue in Europe. "We have to begin strongly and make sure we win our home games," said the coach, whose previous UEFA Champions League experience amounts to four qualifiers during his spell at the helm of FC Shakhtar Donetsk in 2003. "The onus will be on us and that might mean taking some risks. This year we are going to give our all and try to perform well in all competitions, just as Sevilla did last season."

Bremen underdogs
The signs are good for the home team who have an excellent record against German opposition with 16 wins from 21 matches. By comparison, Bremen have triumphed only twice in eight visits to Spain and they suffered a 3-0 Bundesliga loss at BV Borussia Dortmund last weekend; something that has not escaped the former German international, Schuster. "Bremen haven't started strongly but that doesn't matter because they've spent years under the same coach and they have a well-oiled system," said Schuster, who admitted Arjen Robben could feature. Pepe and Gabriel Heinze are ruled out with thigh injuries while Fernando Gago is expected to replace the suspended Mahamadou Diarra.

European dream
Schuster arrived at the Bernabéu during the summer to replace Fabio Capello, and he clearly has designs on claiming European club football's most coveted silverware. "Every year since I became a coach, I've enjoyed watching Champions League finals and always thought that one day I could be there," he said. "I'm now working with a team that can take me closer to my dream. It would be a beautiful thing to achieve; more important than euros, dollars or Deutschmarks."

Bremen injuries
Such thoughts are far from Thomas Schaaf's mind. The Bremen boss must contend with an injury crisis as his men get set for their first UEFA Champions League encounter since exiting after the group stage last term. Torsten Frings, Tim Borowski, Clemens Fritz, Pierre Womé, Ivan Klasnić and Aaron Hunt are all sidelined yet there is some good news: playmaker Diego has recovered from a slight knock, while Sebastian Boenisch and Martin Harnik have also been declared fit.

Team growth
"We admire players like Raúl González and Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Robinho is a very elegant player who can excite the crowd," said Schaaf. Having reached the UEFA Cup semi-finals last season following their UEFA Champions League demise, Bremen have a pedigree of their own and the coach is looking for more: "We've taken note of how well Madrid are playing. We hope this game can help us grow as a team."