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What a dramatic game against Sampdoria! Markus Rosenberg scored in injury time to send the match into an extra session and Claudio Pizarro scored in the supplementary time to doom the Italians. So the Green-Whites from Werder Bremen are part of the group stage for the sixth time in the last seven years but have been drawn in Group A, which contains some very good teams, especially holders Inter.

STRENGTHS & WEAKNESSES

Bremen are known for their offensive brilliance. In the past few years the team from northern Germany have beaten big name clubs like Real Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Chelsea thanks to their offensive and creative players. At home Werder are particularly difficult to beat.

In terms of weaknessess, Werder have been searching for a good winger for years now and that’s the real problem for the Green-Whites. Goalkeeper Tim Wiese is an important player, as well as the "Twin Towers" Naldo and Per Mertesacker in central defence - but only if they play together. When Naldo was out at the start of the season, Bremen had massive problems.
 
STARS & KEY PLAYERS

Buying Claudio Pizarro after his loan from Chelsea was one of the best decisions manager Klaus Allofs has ever made. The striker from Peru not only scores goals, but finds a way to bag important ones. His experience helps the side enormously.

Defender Naldo’s importance was clear when he was injured and Bremen struggled. Since Mesut Oezil joined Real Madrid, the spotlight is on winger Marko Marin, who has great dribbling ability. And don’t forget the new man Marko Arnautovic. Former Werder star Andreas Herzog dubbed him the best Austrian player in the last 30 years. Not a spectacular player by any means but a rising star beside Torsten Frings in midfield could be Philipp Bargfrede. The 21-year-old is a battler in the middle of the park.

COACH & TACTICAL

In Germany it’s an old tradition that Bremen keep their managers for a while: Otto Rehhagel was there for 14 years, for example. Current incumbent Thomas Schaaf started his career as Werder’s coach in 1999, winning the German cup, and the highlight was in 2003-04, when he won the double: the German championship and cup.

Yet each season he has the same problem, as the best players regularly leave the club. But each year he finds a replacement. So when Johan Micoud left, Werder found Brazilian Diego. When Diego left, Mesut Oezil was the the man to make things tick. Now Oezil is playing at Real Madrid perhaps Marko Marin or Marko Arnautovic will be the new rising star. Schaaf prefers to play with an attacking style. Mostly with a 4-4-2, but sometimes a 4-5-1, every formation is carried out in an attractive and offensive manner.

SUCCESSES

The four-time German champions had their greatest success in 1992, when they won the Cup Winners Cup' against Monaco thanks to goals from Klaus Allofs and Wynton Rufer. In 2009, Bremen lost the UEFA Cup final in extra time to Shakthar Donetsk.

In the Champions League the Green-Whites have never surpassed the quarter-finals. In 2006, they had had a great chance to equal their best finish, but a huge gaffe by ‘keeper Tim Wiese gifted Juventus a 2-1 win and a berth in the last eight instead of Bremen.


 
STADIUM

The Weserstadion is directly located at the Weser in the beautiful town of Bremen. The city is famous for the ‘Stadtmusikanten’ - a German fairytale by the Brothers Grimm. The stadium is known for its floodlights - an old fashioned relic of the 80s that are now the trademark of the Weserstadion. The stadium holds around 40,000 fans and in the last few years Werder have undertaken a lot of work to modernise the venue. The fans are now closer to the action and while it's not the biggest stadium in Germany it revels in a lot of tradition.

HERO OF THE FANS

You might expect Claudio Pizarro here but the real hero of the fans is his fellow striker Hugo Almeida. The fans and media call him ‘Hugoal’. Why is this? I have no idea. Maybe because of his strong shooting. The striker from Portugal is now in his fifth year in Bremen and has never indulged in any scandals, prefering to simply play football and score goals.

 
GOAL.COM PREDICTION

Next to Group G, with Inter, Tottenham and Twente is maybe the strongest one. Werder Bremen have demonstrated in the past how to beat Inter and Twente and if they win the opener at home against Tottenham this will be a good starting point. But I expect really close results - not only from Bremen. In this group everything is possible, including even the elimination of Inter from the group stage.

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