Barcelona will aim not to become the first holders to bow out of the Champions League at the group stage when they host Werder Bremen in a do or die game at the Nou Camp on Tuesday.
Few will argue that Frank Riijkard’s boys are the best on the planet, but the Spanish giants have underperformed in Europe this season. They have only managed wins against Levski Sofia and they need a win to progress to the knockout stages. Riijkard will not take his opponents lightly and this was illustrated by the fact that he chose to rest Ronaldinho for the weekend draw against lowly Levante. The Brazilian playmaker has assumed the goalscoring mantle at Barcelona with injuries to Lionel Messi and Samuel Etoo.He currently leads the La Liga charts with 10 goals. Mexican defender Rafael Marquez is a doubt for this game. If he does not play, Thuram will partner Puyol in defence. The other question in front of Riijkard would be between Xavi and Iniesta. Iniesta has been in great form this season, but Xavi’s experience may see him get the nod over Iniesta for this crucial game. Eidur Gudjohnsen is the sole striker for the Catalans and he will be supported by Giuly and Ronaldinho.
Bremen, like Barca are top of their league at this moment. Thomas Schaaf’s squad have played well this season and go into this game knowing that a draw would be enough for them to progress at the expense of the Catalans. They beat Hertha Berlin 3-1 in their last game and fielded a full strength squad. Bremen have a very potent attack with the likes of Miroslav Klose and Diego in the squad. Frings will be given the job of stoppinf Deco most probably. Their defence is a bit shaky against good attacking teams and Barcelona will represent a stiff challenge for them. Bremen with their height advantage, will look to make the most of the set pieces. Remember the Mertesacker goal against Chelsea??
Barca beat Bremen 3-1 in the Champions League at the Nou Camp last season. The pressure will be on the defending champions. They have home support though, and I think they will beat Bremen by a goal or two.