Werder Bremen must beat Group C leaders Real Madrid CF at the Weserstadion on Matchday 5 or face likely elimination from the UEFA Champions League.
Werder Bremen must beat Group C leaders Real Madrid CF at the Weserstadion on Matchday 5 or face likely elimination from the UEFA Champions League. That is the equation for Thomas Schaaf and his side after they suffered a third defeat in the competition at S.S. Lazio on 6 November – a result that left them two points adrift at the bottom of the section.
• Madrid, by contrast, sit three points clear of S.S. Lazio and Olympiacos CFP and, with that pair meeting in Rome, the Spanish champions know avoiding defeat in Germany will secure their passage to the last 16.
• A draw between Lazio and Olympiacos in the other Matchday 5 game would suit Bremen for it is the only outcome that would keep their hopes alive should they fail to beat Madrid.
• Yet there are positives for the Bundesliga team. They need only look back to their 2005/06 campaign – when they qualified from the group stage despite three defeats – to know all is not lost. Celtic FC achieved the feat last season while, looking further back, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, FC Lokomotiv Moskva and Newcastle United FC (2002/03), Arsenal FC (2001/02), Olympique Lyonnais (2000/01), Manchester United FC and Rosenborg BK (1996/97), and Legia Warszawa (1995/96) all survived a trio of losses.
• Bremen might also take heart from Madrid's record of just one win – and 14 defeats – from their 21 previous games in Germany in UEFA club competition. Recent history, meanwhile, shows the Merengues have won only once in their last eight UEFA Champions League away games.
• Madrid won the sides' Matchday 1 meeting in the Spanish capital where Raúl González (16 minutes) and Ruud van Nistelrooy (74) found the net either side of a Boubacar Sanogo (17) strike for the visitors.
• Bremen then suffered a damaging home defeat by Olympiacos CFP on Matchday 2, surrendering a 1-0 lead given to them by Hugo Almeida as they conceded three goals in the closing 17 minutes to go down 3-1. Although they revived their hopes by beating Lazio 2-1 through goals from Sanogo and Hugo Almeida, they then lost by the same score away to the Serie A side, Diego's 88th-minute penalty too little too late following a Tommaso Rocchi double.
• Since beating Bremen on Matchday 1, Madrid have drawn 2-2 at Lazio – Van Nistelrooy scoring twice – and 0-0 at Olympiacos. In between, they came from behind to overcome Olympiacos 4-2 on Matchday 3, Raúl, Robinho (2) and Javier Ángel Balboa securing a narrow victory for Bernd Schuster's men.
• This is the first match between Bremen and Madrid at the Weserstadion. From eight previous home matches against Spanish opposition, Bremen's record is three wins, three draws and two defeats.
• Madrid coach Schuster is German and played 21 times for the West Germany national team. The Madrid squad also features German international defender Christoph Metzelder, who joined the club from BV Borussia Dortmund in July.
• As a player with Bremen, their coach Schaaf was in the team beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Club Atlético de Madrid in the first round of the 1986/87 UEFA Cup.
• Madrid's Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder both tasted defeat at the Weserstadion last season in their colours of their old clubs. Robben appeared as a substitute in Chelsea FC's 1-0 defeat by Bremen in the UEFA Champions League group stage while Sneijder was in the AFC Ajax team beaten 3-0 by Bremen in a UEFA Cup Round of 32 tie.