Currently laying in tenth place in the German Bundesliga 1, Werder Bremen must focus on this particular competition in order to get a trophy this season. They are still active in the DFB Pokal (German Cup), but that will be put on the backburner for the time being.
Having only taken a single point from the first three matches of 2009 Ã¢â‚¬â€¢ two of those at home Ã¢â‚¬â€¢ Werder are out of the running in the Bundesliga title hunt.
On February 1, they lost at home to Arminia Bielefeld 2-1. After conceding midway through the first half, they drew that goal back just before half-time through Hugo Almeida. Any momentum they had gained from that goal was quickly tossed away; as Bielefeld scored the winner four minutes after the interval.
Another quick-fire goal after half-time was all it took to defeat Werder the next weekend; Schalke 04 scored three minutes following the restart to take the full allotment of points at their home ground.
While Werder didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow any goals close to half-time in their most recent fixture, a 1-1 draw at home against Borussia Monchengladbach, another let down, this time in front of goal, was the reason for lost points once again.
Werder had an amazing total of 35 shots in this match, 13 of those on goal. They didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make any of them count, however, until deep into the second half, when Claudio Pizarro headed in a corner kick (76′). The advantage was short lived, Michael Bradley using his chest to guide the ball into the back of the Werder net three minutes later.
Frankly, the only good result they have achieved this year was their 2-1 away victory versus Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal Cup at the end of January. They now go on to play Wolfsburg in the quarter-final round of that trophy, although it is widely seen as a consolation prize for the top clubs.
Not To Be Outdone
Speaking of being out of contention for trophies domestically, Milan have essentially already been removed from the running for the Scudetto. The 2-1 loss to Inter on Sunday now has the Rossoneri 11 points back of Inter in the Serie A table. While Milan are not mathematically out of contention, the gulf will be incredible difficult to overcome.
The only hope Milan have is that, with Inter facing a tough schedule in Italy in the next two months and also having the big match-up with Manchester United in the Champions League, their city rivals lose their concentration.
All hope of glory this season is not lost, however. Milan are the favourites to take home the UEFA Cup and they will be focusing their efforts on doing just that since they are no longer realistic challengers for the Serie A crown.
This particular encounter will not be an easy task. Kaka is not fit for this match due to a left foot problem. Also, David Beckham may not be ready to go after a slight hamstring pull.
It will be interesting to see how Milan responds in this match because they will have been left demoralised by Inter. The Nerazzurri were clearly a better side, with the most obvious differences between the two sides being InterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s great advantage in speed and strength. Players such as Adriano, Sulley Muntari and Dejan Stankovic out-ran and out-muscled Milan during the match, with two of those aforementioned players scoring.
13/12 (Bundesliga): Werder 2-1 Wolfsburg
28/01 (DFB Pokal): Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Werder
01/02 (Bundesliga): Werder 1-2 Arminia Bielefeld
07/02 (Bundesliga): Schalke 1-0 Werder
14/02 (Bundesliga): Werder 1-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
25/01 (Serie A): Bologna 1-4 Milan
28/01 (Serie A): Milan 1-1 Genoa
01/02 (Serie A): Lazio 0-3 Milan
07/02 (Serie A): Milan 1-1 Reggina
15/02 (Serie A): Inter 2-1 Milan
The Germans have a trio of players with injury problems that could keep them sidelined for this match. Aaron Hunt, Daniel Jensen and Jurica Vranjes are their worries.
Torsten Frings is suspended for this clash and Frank Baumann faces a suspension for the second leg should he be cautioned.
Possible Formation (4-4-2): Wiese; Fritz, Mertesacker, Naldo, Boenisch; Baumann, Tziolis, Diego, Ozil; Pizarro, Rosenberg
Alessandro Nesta underwent surgery this week to try and repair his back problems and Andriy Shevchenko’s left thigh problem has not healed. Gennaro Gattuso is a long term casualty. Kaka is not ready to return from the injury he sustained against Reggina ten days ago.
David Beckham hurt his hamstring on Sunday and it remains to be seen if he will play in this match. Luca Antonini will miss the return leg in Milan if he gets a yellow card here.
Possible Formation (4-3-2-1): Dida; Antonini, Bonera, Kaladze, Favalli; Flamini, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Seedorf, Ronaldinho; Inzaghi
PLAYERS TO WATCH
The man to watch for the hosts is definitely attacking midfielder Diego. He was suspended for their match at the weekend so he should be fully rested and ready to go. He will be eager to match himself against Ronaldinho in this battle of Brazilian midfielders. Big strikers always give Milan trouble; Claudio Pizarro will be expected to do the same.
Ronaldinho could do with being a little more consistent in this match than he did against Inter on Sunday. He was very good in the last 30 minutes of the match but did little in the first hour. In a rare appearance between the sticks, Dida will definitely be called to action by the Werder attack.
Neither side will want to get beaten on the counter-attack, so a defensive structure will be stressed by both managers. That being said, there is too much talent in the respective midfields for this to be solely a defensive battle.
Werder 1-1 Milan