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Bremen set sights on final-day fillip

Werder Bremen's UEFA Champions League hopes may be over for another season, but Thomas Schaaf is hoping for a win to instil "confidence for the tasks ahead" when they host already-qualified FC Internazionale Milano.

Thomas Schaaf addresses the press on Monday
Thomas Schaaf addresses the press on Monday ©Getty Images

Top meet bottom in Group B as Werder Bremen host already-qualified FC Internazionale Milano knowing they must win to stand a chance of earning a UEFA Cup spot, but with inconsistency undermining the German team's campaign and injuries biting, the fates may be conspiring against them.

Slim pickings
Bremen were always counting on their encounter with Inter being decisive, though they had envisaged it being more of a play-off to determine the group winners than what amounts to a last throw of the dice. Things have simply not gone to plan. Yet while their UEFA Champions League ambitions may be over, Thomas Schaaf's side can still claim third position and a UEFA Cup place should they beat Inter and Anorthosis Famagusta FC fail to win at Panathinaikos FC.

Confidence boost
"We definitely want to win, but considering the season we've had, the response of the team is much more important – I want each and every player to show they have the will to turn our season around," said Schaaf. "We are in a very tough position at the moment and we all know Inter are an excellent side. Beating them would perhaps give us confidence for the challenges ahead."

Jensen call
With Diego suspended, Bremen's hopes of springing a surprise have been further hit by a number of injuries. Hugo Almeida is out with a bad back while Naldo (toe) and Frank Baumann (calf) are both doubtful after picking up knocks during Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Karlsruher SC. Help could be at hand from unexpected quarters, however, with midfielder Daniel Jensen poised for a recall after nearly two months out. "I have asked him to stay with the team," confirmed Schaaf. "He will not be able to play 90 minutes but he could make an impact off the bench."

Mourinho respect
Bremen could certainly do with a pick-me-up after recording just three wins in 14 outings, a run of form which has surprised Inter coach José Mourinho. "At the draw for the group stage we all thought Inter and Bremen would progress from this group, but results have told a different story. We have only eight points ourselves and I am not happy with that," said the Portuguese. "We obviously want to win the match and win our group, but Thomas Schaaf is a friend and I also have a lot of respect for [Bremen] general manager Klaus Allofs."

Youngsters poised
With his side needing a victory to guarantee their passage to the knockout stage as pool winners, Mourinho will happily overlook friendships at the Weserstadion – even if he makes a few changes to the XI that won 3-0 at S.S. Lazio on Saturday. "The atmosphere in the team is great because I have not told anybody who is playing," the former Chelsea FC manager said. "Players who have been regular starters in recent weeks want to keep their places while others cannot wait to get in the side." Mario Balotelli and Davide Santon are among the latter group, and with Inter likely to be shorn of Patrick Vieira (thigh), Julio Cruz (thigh) and Cristian Chivu (knee), they may get their chance.