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Nov 4, 2005

Bayern face Bremen in top of the table clash

FRANKFURT, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Newly inspired Werder Bremen are convinced they can end Bayern Munich's perfect record at the Allianz Arena on Saturday and take the Bundesliga leadership back home with them.

Bremen beat Udinese 4-3 to claim their first Champions League win of the season on Wednesday and the exhilarating performance will give them a shot of confidence as they prepare to take on a Bayern side facing an injury doubt over Michael Ballack.

'The advantage for Bayern is obviously their experience and we know it's going to be tough,' said midfielder Torsten Frings, who left Bayern to go back to Bremen at the end of last season.

'But we're a great team, playing beautiful attacking football. We've also just got our first win in the Champions League and that will give us a huge measure of self-belief. It's great to travel to Munich after that.'

Bayern have won all five of their home league matches since moving to their new World Cup stadium for the current season and have kept a clean sheet each time.

Bremen, double winners in 2004, trail Bayern by two points ahead of the head-to-head meeting of the Bundesliga's top two but they have outscored the champions by 31 goals to 24.

Thomas Schaaf's side will be missing striker Ivan Klasnic because of an appendicitis but Nelson Valdez proved a more than adequate replacement against the Italians.

Bayern had a less fortunate Champions League experience in midweek, going down 2-1 away to Juventus, although they remain on course for a place in the last 16.

Ballack suffered a bruised right thigh in that game and could miss out, while Roy Makaay's woeful form continued in front of goal.

The Dutchman, normally the most reliable of finishers, has not scored since August and coach Felix Magath needs him to rediscover his touch.

'Roy has a problem in his head,' said Magath. 'He missed a chance against Juventus that he would have taken before without doubt. I mean no reproach, though. His place is not under question.'

Like Bremen, Schalke 04 revived their European hopes with a 2-0 win over Fenerbahce this week.

It was a first victory in five matches for Ralf Rangnick's side, who are in fourth place, 10 points off the title pace.

Schalke have a comfortable looking home game against Duisburg on Saturday and another good result would ease the pressure on Rangnick considerably.

Hamburg SV, four points behind Bayern in third place, are not in action until Sunday when they travel to face Borussia Moenchengladbach.