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History can give Panathinaikos heart

Panathinaikos FC have lost their opening two games and if they are not destined for another disappointing group campaign, they need to find their form against Werder Bremen who are themselves looking for a first win.

It had been a fruitless start to the campaign for Henk ten Cate's Panathinaikos side
It had been a fruitless start to the campaign for Henk ten Cate's Panathinaikos side ©Getty Images

After two defeats, the pressure is on Panathinaikos FC to find their form against Werder Bremen who have drawn both their opening fixtures but travel in good heart after holding FC Internazionale Milano to a 1-1 draw at San Siro three weeks ago.

• While the Greek team might have predicted that their opening game at home to Inter would present difficulties, they would surely have made the short journey to Cyprus to take on Anorthosis Famagusta FC in a much more positive frame of mind. However, a dreadful start in Nicosia against the Group B underdogs put Henk ten Cate's team on the back foot and they were never to recover. José Sarriegi's own goal and a header from Siniša Dobrašinović in the first 15 minutes set the Cypriot titleholders on their way, and although Dimitris Salpingidis reduced arrears from the penalty spot, Iraqi substitute Hawar Taher put the result beyond doubt with 12 minutes remaining.

• It was not what Panathinaikos were looking for after their 2-0 home defeat by Inter on Matchday 1. Goals in each half from Mancini and substitute Adriano – both taking advantage of Zlatan Ibrahimović assists – made the difference for the Serie A champions.

• Perhaps a home game with Bremen will stir the Athens club to produce something extra. In their one and only previous meeting in Greece, a group stage match in the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League, Panathinaikos ran out 2-1 winners. Ezequiel González gave the home side the lead with a fifth-minute penalty, and Evagelos Mantzios doubled the advantage three minutes later. Bremen pulled a goal back through Miroslav Klose just before the break but, reduced to ten men when Ivan Klasnić was sent off, the visitors could not save themselves.

• The teams for that meeting on 27 September 2005 were:
Panathinaikos: Mario Galinović, Nasief Morris, Flavio Conceição, Giannis Goumas (Elias Kotsios), Ezequiel González, Anthony Šerić, Loukas Vintra, Evangelos Mantzios (Fanis Gekas), Mikael Nilsson, Filippos Darlas, Sándor Torghelle (Alexandros Tziolis).
Bremen: Andreas Reinke, Naldo, Frank Baumann (Aaron Hunt), Johan Micoud, Miroslav Klose, Patrick Owomoyela, Leon Andreasen, Ivan Klasnić, Torsten Frings, Tim Borowski, Christian Schulz (Nelson Valdez).

• The return game at the Weserstadion on 7 December 2005 produced a more positive outcome for the German side, winning 5-1 in the final group fixture to clinch their ticket to the knockout stage. An early Johan Micoud penalty and two Nelson Valdez goals gave Bremen an unassailable lead before half-time with further efforts arriving from Klose and Torsten Frings after the interval. Panathinaikos' sole reply came from Nasief Morris.

• The September 2005 clash was only the second time Panathinaikos had overcome German visitors in nine home games. They had previously seen off FC Schalke 04 2-0 in the first group stage of the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League. Their heaviest home defeat was a 4-1 loss to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the second round of the 1993/94 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup and their full record reads: won two, drawn four, lost three.

• After the fixture with Panathinaikos, Bremen subsequently played one other competitive game in Greece, losing 3-0 away to Olympiacos CFP in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage. It was a vital encounter, both teams entering the final game knowing victory would propel them into the knockout rounds. And it was the home side who rose to the occasion with midfielder Ieroklis Stoltidis scoring twice and also providing an assist for Darko Kovačević.

• Bremen's point at San Siro on 1 October was earned by Claudio Pizarro, whose second-half goal cancelled out Maicon's opener. It was a result that helped to banish the frustration the Bundesliga runners-up experienced after their opening-day fixture with Anorthosis Famagusta FC had ended 0-0. Pizarro, Mesut Özil and Hugo Almeida all failed to convert when well placed.

• Last season, Thomas Schaaf's team lost all three away games in their UEFA Champions League group. They last tasted victory on their travels in the 2006/07 season against PFC Levski Sofia but that is the only success in their last 12 away games in the competition. Two draws have now been achieved in that sequence.

• As assistant coach to Frank Rijkaard, Ten Cate helped Barcelona FC to win the 2005/06 UEFA Champions League. In the group stage, the Spanish side beat Bremen 2-0 away and 3-1 at home.

• Panathinaikos's Andreas Ivanschitz played for Austria against Germany in a UEFA EURO 2008™ group match in Vienna. Torsten Frings, Clemens Fritz and Per Mertesacker were on the opposing side.

• The other game in the group is Inter v Anorthosis.