Werder Bremen v Inter
Werder Bremen will be keen to secure qualification from the group stage tonight at home to group leaders Inter.
Failure to beat Inter combined with a win for Valencia over Anderlecht will leave a final match showdown in Milan in two weeks time to decide second spot in the table.
Since losing the first game of the group away to Inter 2-0, Bremen have gone on to win their next three matches. Adriano, the Brazillian striker that scored both goals for Inter that night, is missing from their line up due to suspension. He was sent off in Inter’s goalless draw with Valencia and Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf is happy to admit this is a huge bonus for his team.
“Adriano is most definitely the best player Inter have,” he said. “His absence weakens Inter and that is an advantage for us.”
Adriano’s absence paves the way for Christian Vieri though, restored to the Inter side after sitting out the Valencia match.
“Their other strikers have a lot of quality,” he said. “And there’s no reason whatsoever to believe we will make the mistake of underestimating any of them.”
Schaaf is expected to stick with the same attack-minded approach that earned home victories over Valencia and Anderlecht. Miroslav Klose has recovered from a slight injury he picked up while on international duty with Germany last week and should start up front with the prolific Ivan Klasnic. The pair have already shared seven goals between them in the Champions League this season, with Klasnic collecting a hat-trick in the 5-1 defeat of Anderlecht three weeks ago.
Bremen, yet to keep a clean sheet in any of their Champions League games this season, will want to tighten up in defence. Referring to the first meeting between the sides in September, Schaaf said: “Inter had far too many chances when we played against them in the Giuseppe Meazza stadium and we will have to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Inter have already assured qualification from the group but will want to finish in top spot. Shrugging off suggestions of possible complacency in his side Inter coach, Roberto Mancini, insisted his team were in Bremen to win.
“Bremen have a very good team and we definitely haven’t come here just to see the sights,” he said. “I want to see my players win the match and the group.”
Mancini is likely to partner Alvaro Recoba up front with Vieri, although the 31-year-old Italy international striker has scored just once in seven games in an injury-marred season.
“I know Vieri can get the job done and he has my complete backing,” Mancini said.
“He has recovered from a few injury problems, is looking fit again and as a result his form is improving.”
Mancini’s greater concern may be at the back, and Inter defender Javier Zanetti confirmed he is not expecting an easy ride.
“We know it will be a tough game because Bremen made life very difficult for us in Milan,” he said.
“They have some outstanding individuals in [Johan] Micoud, Klasnic and Klose. We’ll have to stop those three players to have any chance of winning the match.”