SV Werder Bremen may be struggling in a tough Group A, but playmaker Marko Marin is flourishing on the big stage and eager to ensure his club will "still be in there next year".
Article top media content
Marko Marin is enjoying the challenge of his first season in the UEFA Champions League but would like to see it continue a little longer as he bids to help SV Werder Bremen advance from a tough Group A.
Bremen have endured a tricky start. Twice they have come from behind to draw, either side of a 4-0 humbling at European champions FC Internazionale Milano, and Marin concedes Tuesday's home tie against FC Twente is all but a must-win game.
"It will definitely be much more difficult if we don't triumph," the 21-year-old told UEFA.com. "But we can't think about that, because we're playing in front of our own fans – a definite advantage – and we have the quality to beat Twente here."
The nimble midfielder moved to Bremen from VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2009, and is now a mainstay of Thomas Schaaf's side. Finishing third last season earned Bremen a return to Europe's top table – secured with a dramatic play-off win against UC Sampdoria.
For Marin, it has already been an exciting ride. "You always dream about the Champions League," he said. "We just made third place and then there was that thriller in Genoa, where we qualified in the last second. To play in the competition now is really special."
Marin's first game in the group stage was one to remember. Trailing debutants Tottenham Hotspur FC 2-0 at home after just 18 minutes, Bremen mounted a strong comeback to salvage a point – Marin slamming in a superb equaliser. "When I hit the target it was a super experience and that's why I hope we win the rest of our group games so we will still be in there next year."
The German international is relishing the challenge of playing against the continent's top clubs. "There is a noticeable difference in quality," he said, "and the tempo is higher. It's good for any player to be able to measure themselves against the best; it is fun, but also what you want."
After losing Diego in 2009, Bremen lost another playmaker this summer as Mesut Özil joined Real Madrid CF. Some believe Marin has the talent to fill Özil's boots, but for now the German international is happy to put the onus on how the team deals with his departure, to "find success without him".
In the meantime Marin, who lists Dejan Savićević and "the extraordinary Mehmet Scholl" as his boyhood heroes, is aiming to progress under the tutelage of Schaaf. "He's a special character," he concluded. "It's well known that he's very good at introducing new talent and that's important for me and my development." Marin calls Schaaf "the symbol of Werder" but the coach will hope his young star creates a legacy of his own as player and club aim to make their mark on the European stage.