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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Dec 7, 2006

Bundesliga: Werder aim to avoid Euro hangover

BERLIN, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Bundesliga leaders Werder Bremen visit Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday knowing they cannot afford another bout of post-Champions League mourning.

Werder went out of the competition on Tuesday when a 2-0 defeat by Barcelona at the Nou Camp ended their hopes of pipping the European champions to the second qualifying slot in Group A.

It was a heroic effort by Thomas Schaaf's side and he has a job on his hands to get them concentrating on domestic matters.

Werder know just how costly European heartache can be.

After last season's defeat by Juventus they were beaten in their next two Bundesliga games, drifting from second to fourth in the process and giving up all hope of challenging Bayern Munich for the title.

Another European hangover would likely cost them the chance of finishing 2006 as league leaders, with two games to go before the halfway stage and the long winter break.

With 15 games played they have 30 points and lead Schalke 04 on goal difference. VfB Stuttgart are third with 28 and Bayern lurk within striking distance in fourth with 27 points.

'Naturally we're disappointed,' Schaaf said in the wake of the Nou Camp defeat. 'We wanted to get something and we had that goal within our reach.

'In the end we didn't get it but I don't think this will have any negative effect on the team in the Bundesliga.'

Frankfurt's Ioannis Amanatidis is injured but if Naohiro Takahara picks up where he left off last weekend that should not be a problem. The Japan striker scored a hat-trick in a 3-2 win at Alemannia Aachen, taking his tally for the season to six.

Bayern had a more satisfying week in Europe, getting a 1-1 draw with Inter Milan to clinch top spot in Group B.

The champions lost ground in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Borussia Moenchengladbach and nothing less than victory will do at home to Energie Cottbus on Saturday if they are to maintain their faint hopes of taking the honorary mid-season title.

Sebastian Deisler is likely to be on the bench again as he eases back into action. Lukas Podolski is still injured.

Schalke, who lost top spot after a goalless draw with Nuremberg last time out, face another difficult game as they host neighbours Borussia Dortmund on Sunday.

Midfielder Zlatan Bajramovic is extremely doubtful for the Ruhr Valley derby with a calf injury but defender Rafinha should recover in time after sitting out training this week.

The weekend action gets underway on Friday when mid-table Bayer Leverkusen host fifth-placed Hertha Berlin.

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