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Bremen banking on change of fortune

After four successive defeats on opening night in the UEFA Champions League, Werder Bremen are looking for a winning start against Anorthosis Famagusta FC, the first Cypriot club to reach the group stage.

Bremen are hoping to have something to celebrate on Matchday 1 at last
Bremen are hoping to have something to celebrate on Matchday 1 at last ©Getty Images

Werder Bremen will be hoping to get off to a winning start at last in their fifth successive UEFA Champions League campaign. After four straight defeats on Matchday 1, the Bundesliga runners-up will be trying to exploit the inexperience of Anorthosis Famagusta FC, the first Cypriot club to reach the group stage.

• Bremen – who also tasted defeat in their first fixture on their only other group-stage appearance, in 1993/94 – lost their first game last season, 2-1 away to Real Madrid CF. They then followed that with another reverse, at home to Olympiacos CFP. Victory in their other two games at the Weserstadion meant they finished third in the group for the second straight season.

• The previous year, Bremen started with a 2-0 loss at Chelsea FC, and that was also the scoreline on their two previous opening nights, when they went down to FC Barcelona and FC Internazionale Milano. The best the German club have managed in the competition was successive first knock-out round appearances in the 2004/05 and 2005/06 campaigns.

• In 2006/07, Bremen followed the Chelsea loss by winning two and drawing one of their home games. Their record on home soil in the competition – group stage to final – shows ten wins, three draws and four losses in 17 games.

• Coached by Thomas Schaaf, the club have met sides from Cyprus on three occasions, two of which ended in 5-0 victories. Those came home and away in the European Champion Clubs' Cup preliminary round against APOEL FC in 1966/67, resulting in a handsome 10-0 aggregate triumph. Bremen also took on Apollon Limassol FC in the 1996 UEFA Intertoto Cup and won 2-0 away from home.

• To make history and become the first Cypriot side to reach the group stage, Anorthosis needed to overcome all three qualifying hurdles, but they strengthened their hand with successive 3-0 home victories in the second and third rounds, first against SK Rapid Wien and then Olympiacos. In the Athens return of the latter tie on 27 August, goalkeeper Arian Beqaj played brilliantly to restrict Olympiacos to a single goal, putting Anorthosis in dreamland.

• Temuri Ketsbaia's men beat Armenian side FC Pyunik 3-0 in the first qualifying round over the two legs before recording a 4-3 aggregate victory against Rapid. Lukasz Sosin scored three times for the Cypriot titleholders over the three ties with Nikos Frousos and Vincent Laban weighing in with two goals apiece.

• Anorthosis have failed to win in any of their six previous meetings with German opposition in UEFA club competition. Four of those ended in defeat,  including a 10-0 reverse at FC Bayern München in the 1983/84 UEFA Cup first round.

• Clemens Fritz scored for Germany in their 4-0 UEFA EURO 2008™ qualifying victory against Cyprus in Hannover on 17 November 2007. Fellow Bremen defender Per Mertesacker also played in the game while Anorthosis duo Lambros Lambrou and Georgos Theodotou were on the opposite side.

• Lambrou and Theodotou were also in the Cyprus team that earned a 1-1 draw against Germany in November 2006, with Fritz in the visiting side. 

• Panathinaikos FC take on FC Internazionale Milano in the section's other Matchday 1 fixture.