Both Werder Bremen and Panathinaikos approach their Group B meeting knowing that a point is not enough if they wish to remain in contention to reach the knockout stages.
Henk ten Cate’s Panathinaikos appeared on course for a welcome win in the reverse fixture in Athens a fortnight ago, only for Hugo Almeida’s late equaliser to earn Bremen a third draw in three outings.
Werder coach Thomas Schaaf acknowledged that only a win will suffice tonight.
“Draws will not get you into the next round of this competition,” he admitted. “Our aim is to progress and to do that we need to start winning. At least we don’t have to rely on anybody except ourselves.”
Schaaf is without the suspended Torsten Frings tonight. Either Jurica Vranjes or, more likely, Aaron Hunt will take his place in left midfield.
Panathinaikos coach Ten Cate believes that after picking up just one point out of nine to date, his side are close to turning the corner.
“We were the better team two weeks ago and should have taken all three points,” said the Dutchman. “We know we can trouble Bremen and hopefully the luck that eluded us in Athens will be on our side this time. We need to win and I’m optimistic we can do so.”
Ten Cate will be without Austria midfielder Andreas Ivanschitz because of tendinitis, yet it is in defence that his squad could have most to worry about. The Greek outfit have conceded seven goals in three Champions League outings this season, although ten Cate seems unconcerned.
“We ran the last game and forced Bremen to do most of the defending,” he said. “Furthermore, Bremen have conceded a lot of goals [more than any other team in the Bundesliga, with 23 shipped in eleven matches] so I’m not worrying about how to defend against them.”