Coach Thomas Schaaf is determined not to let Werder Bremen's qualifying hopes evaporate as Real Madrid CF arrive looking to secure their own last-16 place.
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Perhaps the only positive Werder Bremen can draw from this year's UEFA Champions League is that they are still in contention – and coach Thomas Schaaf is determined not to let their chances evaporate for good when Real Madrid CF come looking for a knockout-stage berth on Wednesday.
Rooted to the bottom of Group C on three points, the Bundesliga outfit are desperate for maximum points against the same opponents who beat them 2-1 in Madrid on Matchday 1. Failure to win might not necessarily prove terminal, but Schaaf wants to avoid that gamble. "We're motivated to win this match because we all want to reach the next round," he said. "It's great to come up against the top teams and we're totally concentrated. I hope we're able to find solutions on the pitch because everything has to go right for you when you play Real."
Three defeats in four Matchdays suggest little has gone right for Bremen so far in Europe, yet the northerners go into the game on a hot streak of domestic form. Saturday's 2-0 success at FC Energie Cottbus was their sixth win from seven league outings – keeping them within a point of leaders FC Bayern München – and they also boast the strongest home record. "We've had some very good results in the Bundesliga and we just need to translate that into Europe," said Schaaf. "We should be able to because our team have the quality."
How much quality they boast without influential playmaker Diego remains to be seen, however, as the gifted Brazilian is suspended after being sent off against S.S. Lazio. "We have several players who can take on Diego's role and I hope we choose the right one," added Schaaf, who is likely to plump for Daniel Jensen. Further forward, striker Boubacar Sanogo returns after missing the Cottbus trip for disciplinary reasons, while back-up goalkeeper Christian Vander steps in for leg-injury victim Tim Wiese.
In the opposition camp, the Spanish champions travel without Gabriel Heinze, Wesley Sneijder (both knee), Royston Drenthe and Roberto Soldado (both flu) but the good news is that Fabio Cannavaro is poised to make his 50th UEFA Champions League appearance. The centre-back has recovered from the knock he received in Saturday's 1-1 draw at Real Murcia CF and should partner Pepe, as Madrid target the point that would guarantee them a last-16 berth.
Bernd Schuster's men lead both their European group and the Primera División, yet the Murcia result prompted questions about their away form – and historically they have won only once in 21 visits to Germany. "I have no idea why that is, but I promise we have the right mental attitude to win this game," countered the German coach. "As for Murcia, we often lack rhythm after an international break. We want to put that match behind us and look forward. And, personally, I'd like to get a good result because I've never done too well here in the past. I usually got hammered, in fact."