Bremen shock Madrid to revive group stage hopes

Weserstadion, Bremen – 28/11/2007 – Group stage
Bremen
Bremen
Rosenberg 5 Sanogo 40 Hunt 58
3 - 2
Real Madrid
  • Robinho 14
  • Van Nistelrooy 71
Real Madrid
Edge of the seat

"We knew we had the chance to turn a dream into reality but we didn't expect to do it like that." Thomas Schaaf

2007/08

• Liverpool FC beat Beşiktaş JK 8-0 at Anfield on Matchday 4, the biggest ever win in the competition. Another English side, Arsenal FC, had defeated SK Slavia Praha 7-0 the previous Matchday.

• At 43 years and 253 days, S.S. Lazio keeper Marco Ballotta became the oldest player in UEFA Champions League history when he played every minute of the 3-1 loss at Real Madrid CF on Matchday 6.

• Manchester United FC beat FC Barcelona 1-0 in their semi-final second leg to earn a 12th straight home win. It was unlucky 13 as they were held by Villarreal CF on Matchday 1 the following season.

Top of the Spanish Liga and just a point from the round of 16, Real Madrid CF were stunned by a SV Werder Bremen performance full of vim and vigour.

The Bundesliga side needed to win to keep alive their hopes of progressing – how it showed. Explosively out of the traps, Bremen's fifth-minute lead was just what the doctor ordered. There was more than a whiff of luck about its conception, though. Boubacar Sanogo's ungainly control of Clemens Fritz's cross on his shoulder inadvertently teed up Markus Rosenberg to scuff a shot into the ground and over Iker Casillas.

If that was full of fortune, Madrid's equaliser was equally rich in quality. Marcelo splayed the ball out to Robinho who, wide on the left, drifted infield with a subtle change of pace and curled effortlessly past Christian Vander and inside the far post.

If that was meant to spell the beginning of Madrid asserting their authority, Bremen had not been sent a copy of the script. Indeed, their effervescence remained intact and was never starker than in the build-up to their second.

Rosenberg was the protagonist, showing desire to win the ball back in his own half, drive to race clear of Fernando Gago and skip past Christoph Metzelder's rash challenge, and poise to cross into the middle. Sanogo's first-time volley was the icing on the cake.

Ruud van Nistelrooy passed up a gilt-edged chance to level again soon after and, barely two minutes later, looked on in envy as Bremen showed the composure he so uncharacteristically lacked. Daniel Jensen played the sumptuous chip over the Madrid defence and Aaron Hunt, making his first appearance in more than six months, tucked past the onrushing Casillas like he had never been away.

Van Nistelrooy relocated his instinct for goal with 19 minutes remaining when, with the shrewdest and briefest of glances up, he delicately lobbed Vander from the most unaccommodating of angles. Madrid ultimately ran out of puff having been blown away by a breathless Bremen display on what their coach, Thomas Schaaf, described as an "extraordinary night".

Star players

  • Mertesacker

    A stalwart for club and country, Mertesacker was an integral member of the Germany teams that came third at the 2006 and 2010 FIFA World Cups, and played every minute of Germany's run to the UEFA EURO 2008 final where they lost to Spain. The imposing centre-back endured further showpiece disappointment the following year in the UEFA Cup with SV Werder Bremen, but gained consolation in the German Cup.

  • Van Nistelrooy

    UEFA Champions League top scorer three times, Van Nistelrooy's record of 12 goals in a single season has been matched only by Lionel Messi in 2010/11. The Netherlands striker has been the most prolific marksman in the Eredivisie, Premier League and Spanish Liga, winning titles with PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United FC – who he joined in April 2001 for a then British record transfer fee – and Real Madrid CF.

  • Robinho

    Despite three seasons – and two Liga titles – at Real Madrid CF, Robinho burst into the public's imagination with a sensational €40m British record move to Manchester City FC in 2008. A mixed spell in England, punctuated by a loan back to his first club, Santos FC, eventually led to a move to AC Milan, where the skillful forward won the 2010/11 Serie A crown in his first season.

What happened next?

• Madrid advanced as Group C winners with a 3-1 victory against S.S. Lazio on Matchday 6, when a 3-0 defeat at Olympiacos FC consigned Bremen to third and a place in the UEFA Cup.

• The Merengues lost 4-2 on aggregate to AS Roma in the last 16, the fourth in a run of six successive seasons their campaign would end at the first knockout stage before the 2010/11 semi-finals.

• Madrid recovered to claim their 31st Liga title by an eight-point margin but by the end of the year coach Bernd Schuster was on his way, making way for Juande Ramos that December.

• Robinho moved to Manchester City FC on the final day of the 2008 summer transfer window for a British record fee of €40m but failed to settle and joined AC Milan two years later.

• A one-club man as a player and coach, Thomas Schaaf guided Bremen to the 2009 UEFA Cup final in Istanbul, where they lost 2-1 in extra time to Ukrainian side FC Shakhtar Donetsk.

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