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Bremen Faces Barca Champions Challenge

The Champions League has left Barcelona and Werder Bremen with painful memories. But on Wednesday the two teams begin their rehabilitation in the Group C clash at the Weserstadion.

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Bremen still bears scars from its 7-2 defeat against Lyon last season

Last season Barcelona were 15 minutes away from the quarter-finals before Chelsea captain John Terry powered in a header at Stamford Bridge to send the Catalan side crashing out by a 5-4 aggregate scoreline. Barcelona went on to lift the Spanish title but the European agony will not be put to bed until they win the trophy and the bid starts against German outfit Bremen.

Bremen also reached the last 16 in the last campaign but crashed out with Lyon thrashing Thomas Schaaf's side 7-2 in France. A 10-2 aggregate scoreline represented the heaviest defeat ever recorded in the knockout phase of the competition.

Barcelona not in form?

Barcelona, like Lyon, are a potent attacking unit, with Brazilian international star Ronaldinho offering a unique creative edge.

Confederations Cup Ronaldinho

Ronaldinho

"It is great to come up against Ronaldinho," said Bremen's Brazilian defender Naldo. "He is the best player in the world even with (Zinedine) Zidane and Ronaldo. "But it is important we do not underestimate the rest of the team."

French international playmaker Ludovic Giuly and Portuguese ace Deco provide laser-like passes for the pacy Cameroon striker Samuel Eto'o, who operates as a lone target-man. Eto'o scored both goals in the 2-0 win over Mallorca on Sunday, but manager Frank Rijkaard believes his team is not in full flow.

"I saw some promising moments but we are still not on top of our game," said Rijkaard.


Klose in the stands

Bremen may be anxious about Barcelona's attacking threat, but the Spaniards should be wary too after the German team crushed Kaiserslautern 5-1 on Saturday. German international Miroslav Klose scored twice in that victory, but he will be missing through suspension after getting sent-off in the qualifying match with FC Basel.

"It is disappointing to watch from the stands but it is my own fault," said Klose. "The boys will pull it off without me though."

Nelson Valdez

Nelson Valdez

Paraguayan international Nelson Haedo Valdez (photo), normally used as a supersub, is poised to deputize and has had time to prepare. "I have prepared myself as best as possible not having a drop of alcohol since the draw was made," explained Valdez.

The hangover from the Lyon defeat still remains, but Bremen can take heart from their recent record against Spanish opposition. Last season Bremen defeated Valencia home and away in the group stage. But the Germans won't be able to rest on their laurels since Barcelona are a step above their Spanish neighbors.

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