Real Madrid have been three years without getting past the second round. Too long in a competition which they believe to be theirs, after winning it a record nine times. Their opponents at the Bernabeu stadium are Werder Bremen, who have started their league campaign with two defeats and three wins. The absence of Klose still hasn’t been filled and without Frings I doubt whether they will be able to unsettle this new Madrid team who have started the season in style. Dutchman Sneijder has inherited Beckham’s twenty-three shirt and it seems his free kick ability, too. At the weekend he managed a wonderful direct free kick that took his tally to four goals in three games. A better start at a new club you couldn’t get. Coach Bernd Schuster is expected to make a couple of changes to the side that beat Almería three goals to one at the weekend, most notably the inclusion of Argentinean midfielder Gago in place of the suspended Diarra, and Van Nistelroy will in all likelihood make the starting line up partnering Raul after being rested for the league game. Both Van Nistelroy and Raul are the Champions league top scorers. Not just this year but in the history of the competition, so I can see one or the other, or even both, getting their names on the score sheet.
The home fans are eagerly awaiting this match to be able to watch new signing Robben in action for the first time since his switch from Chelsea. He didn’t arrive in the best of shape and Schuster has been keeping him in the wings until he was completely sure the Dutchman was back to his best. He isn’t expected to start but will undoubtedly make an appearance somewhere in the game.
Real Madrid have the bit between their teeth at the moment. They are desperate to regain their lost image as one of Europe’s giants, and with the prospect of this season lifting their tenth European cup on offer they could be a very good bet. I’m going for a comfortable home win here, with two, three or even more goals from the home team’s wicked attack.
Prediction: Home win (4-2)