Per Mertesacker insists Werder Bremen's 8-1 win against DSC Arminia Bielefeld will count for nothing against Group C rivals Olympiacos CFP this evening.
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It is not often that teams look up at the scoreboard after a match and see eight goals beside their name. Werder Bremen had to wait 24 years before reliving that experience this weekend, but giant defender Per Mertesacker insists their spectacular showing against DSC Arminia Bielefeld will count for nothing against UEFA Champions League Group C rivals Olympiacos CFP on Wednesday.
Celebrating his birthday with his side's fifth in Saturday's 8-1 win, the German international was certainly in the thick of the action. Yet despite having only turned 23, he is mature enough to know that European football brings a challenge of a higher calibre. "That was a great result, but nothing that happened in the Bundesliga matters now," he said. "This is a different competition and the pressure is really on because we haven't got any points."
Succumbing 2-1 at Real Madrid CF on Matchday 1 denied Bremen the start they were looking for, and they are desperate to get going at home to Olympiacos as they bid to graduate from the group stage for the first time. "The Madrid game is forgotten. What's important for us is getting maximum points at home, which makes this a key fixture," added Mertesacker. "We have another home game next as well [against S.S. Lazio] and both matches will play a huge part in how far we go."
'Just a statistic'
A regular in Germany's vibrant 2006 FIFA World Cup campaign, Mertesacker is getting used to success, yet he has enough memories of tougher times to take supposed underdogs Olympiacos seriously. Once told by his own father that he would never make it as a footballer, he is quick to downplay the Greek title-holders' record of 31 UEFA Champions League away matches without a victory. "That's just a statistic," he countered. "We don't care about statistics. We'll simply focus on the game and see what Olympiacos are capable of on the pitch."
Given Bremen's recent injury troubles, a lack of complacency is wise to say the least. The list of absentees was impressive enough before the Bielefeld outing, and now goalkeeper Tim Wiese is sidelined with a muscular problem and striker Boubacar Sanogo rated as doubtful. "We're used to that here," said Mertesacker. "It's almost normal. It's true we don't change goalkeeper too often, but Christian Vander is a good keeper and he'll be fine."