Per Mertesacker has called on Werder Bremen to seize their slim chance of reaching the UEFA Cup by beating FC Internazionale Milano at home. "This is a really tough task but we want to live up to the challenge," he said.
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Werder Bremen defender Per Mertesacker has his sights set on a place in the UEFA Cup, but knows FC Internazionale Milano will do his side no favours as they aim to finish their own Group B campaign on a high.
Bremen's 2-2 draw at Anorthosis Famagusta FC two weeks ago made progress in the UEFA Champions League impossible for the German club, who dropped to tenth in the Bundesliga after Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Karlsruher SC. Inconsistency has dogged Thomas Schaaf's team all season and they have just four points from their five matches in Group B. A disappointing campaign, however, could take a turn for the better should they pick up their first win in the section against the Italian champions on Tuesday.
"Playing in the Champions League is something every player should enjoy and I say this even though we have not performed at our best this term," Mertesacker said. "We must put our previous games behind us and concentrate on the task at hand. The job could not be much more difficult. Providing we beat Inter, we still have to rely on the other result going our way to qualify for the UEFA Cup."
Bremen are bottom of the group, two points behind Anorthosis in third and three off second-placed Panathinaikos FC who meet the Cypriot titleholders in Athens. While there has been speculation Inter may rest key players for the tie at the Weserstadion, the 24-year-old German international does not believe that would necessarily help his side. "Let's face it, no matter who José Mourinho picks he will field an excellent team," he said.
Beating Inter and qualifying for the UEFA Cup could help turn Bremen's season around and Mertesacker is desperate to make the most of the opportunity. "As we're no longer in control of our destiny, I must admit our chances of qualifying for the UEFA Cup are slim," Mertesacker said. "It is an extremely tough task, but we want to live up to the challenge. We must put the past behind us because we cannot change it, but we can influence the outcome of our upcoming games, starting against Inter."
Inter have already reached the knockout stage, but with top spot not assured the Nerazzurri still have plenty to play for, including pride after dropping points against all three rivals in the section. "We always want to play our best and we want to show we're a big club by winning this game and the group," defender Nicolás Burdisso said. "We have a few things to make up for ourselves, such as the result against Famagusta and the home defeat by Panathinaikos."