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It's all or nothing for Barça

December 5 2006

Frank Rijkaard's team will be playing the first “final” match of the Champions League today since only a win will get them through the group stage. This is a situation that few people thought the reigning champions would come to, so tonight's match against Werder Bremen will be worth the watch. The match that will kick off at 20.45 (Spain time) will surely be watched by millions all around the globe. Seeing the mighty champions of the Champions League and arguably the currently best team in the world be kicked out of the latter stages of the Cup does not happen every day.

And that’s not even the point, a good spectacle is guaranteed considering that Barcelona will go out and look for the victory from minute 0, and after having seen some of Werder Bremen’s performances, one can think that the wise Thomas Schaaf will have something under his sleeve. His team hardly ever sits back and defends, in any case, they like to keep possession and control the proceedings. It is very, very likely that it will be a thrilling match.

Media talk has been more than enough to set up a tense atmosphere for the match. Rijkaard already responded to the Bremen players who claimed they were better than Barça and that they were performing better than last year by adopting a taunting, even angry mind-game position.

He claimed that he saw his players were calm and very concentrated in the match, but without any superiority ideas. He also stated:

“Werder say that they are better than last year, in that way there’s no pressure on us.

“Maybe there’s more pressure on them, they are the ones saying that they are better, that they will get through and that they are here not to look for a draw but to win.

“We will find that out on the pitch.

The Dutch coach also pointed out the qualities of the German side, by praising their physical aptitudes and noticing that they don’t play counter-attacking football even in away matches. Considering that both teams will play attacking football, he also pointed out it will be an interesting match.

On the other side, Schaaf stated that his team will go out and play “as they know best”, explaning that he will not be making any tactical changes and will not try to adapt to Barcelona’s game plan. He took time to praise his rivals and claim that it would be a surprise if they didn’t make it past the group stage.

Ronaldinho added emotion to the preview of the clash, as he stated the following:

“It will be the most important match of the season to the date.”

“We have to play as we always do, looking for victory from the beginning, keeping the tension in the counter-attacks, keeping possession and looking for goals from the first minute.

“I have the same confidence as ever, we are all very happy and confident in the dressing room.

He too agreed that it will be a match to enjoy:

“That’s the objective, to enjoy, suffering only if needed.

“It’s a final, the fans’ support will be very important and these matches are prepared in a different way.

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