1-0, Puyol o. g. (min. 56)
1-1, Messi (min. 89)
Lionel Messi scored a late goal to earn FC Barcelona a draw in their Champions League game against Werder Bremen in the Weserstadion. Bad luck had already shrouded the Blaugrana's evening as Carles Puyol scored an own goal and Samuel Eto'o was stretchered off.
The point could prove to be crucial as Frank Rijkaard's side stayed in touch with Chelsea ahead of the two meetings against the London side next month. Werder Bremen proved to be as strong as Barça had predicted and caused problems throughout the encounter in Germany. The hosts imposed their strength and speed on the game and created several chances, but their only goal came when Puyol saw his attemped block fly past Víctor Valdés and in to his own net. More bad news came 20 minutes into the second half when Eto'o left the field clutching his knee, but the team's fortunes changed in the closing stages when Messi slid in to equalise with just two minutes remaining.
Werder start strongly
The home side began the game at a strong pace after both coaches had made attempted to cause a surprise by making changes to their regular line-ups. The German trainer brought in Mertesacker and Hunt, while the Dutchman named Oleguer, Lilian Thuram, Sylvinho, Andrés Iniesta, Thiago Motta and Ludovic Giuly. The opening minutes were reminiscent of the between the two teams in Germany last season as Werder pushed forward and caught Barça slightly by surprise. Despite launching several raids, with Aaron Hunt causing problems down the left and Miroslav Klose marauding through the middle, the visitors held firm and began to pull themselves into the match.
Finding the rhythm
With Rijkaard's team finding their feet, Tim Wiese was called into action in the Werder goal. Iniesta and Deco passed across the midfield, while Eto'o and Ronaldinho both had chances, but were denied by the keeper in one-on-one situations. Despite not scoring, the forays forward proved that Barça were bringing themselves back into the game, although they had to remain vigilant at the back with Puyol and Thuram staying back to watch the Werder frontmen. Eto'o tested Wiese in the 22nd minute and just over ten minutes later Giuly fired a shot from the edge of the area which the keeper punched clear. In the closing minutes of the half, Barcelona found their rhythm and went into the break having enjoyed 56 per cent percentage.
Bad luck strikes
The second period began much like the first had ended. Barça controlled the play and allowed Werder less time to mount their surging runs forward. There were clear chances at both ends as Giuly and Klose both headed wide from corners, while Deco drove a long range shot over the bar. Misfortune then struck in minute 56 as Tim Borowski sent over a low cross that Puyol reached before Klose, but the Barça defender's touch steered the ball past Valdés and into the net. Just six minutes later the run of bad luck continued when Eto'o pulled up and was then stretchered from the field with a knee injury that forced the visitors into making a change.
With Eidur Gudjohnsen and Messi making their entrance, Barça's attack gained more impetus and Werder sat back hoping to soak up the pressure. The Argentinian international was very lively from his first touch as his skill and pace confused the German rearguard more than once, while Gudjohnsen's strength and ability to hold up the ball helped Barça build attacking moves. Messi's fired a warning shot in the 76th minute when he weaved along the edge of the area before seeing his drive kept out by Wiese, but the home side did not learn and with just two minutes remaining they were made to pay. Messi edged along the box before findingo Deco who returned the ball with an exquisite pass which Messi latched onto before steering home from 14 yards out. After a sapping encounter, Barça deserved to take a point and will now be relishing the games against Chelsea in October.
Just like season, Barça will give a new away strip its first official airing against Werder Bremen. Last season the colour was bright yellow and this year the team will play in orange, with the unicef logo printed in blue. The team has already worn the orange kit during the pre-season tour of the United States.
FC Barcelona face their first real test of the new Champions League campaign as they travel to Germany to take on Werder Bremen. The encounter provides the Blaugrana with a chance to prove that they are ready to defend the title.
After cruising to victory against Levski Sofia in the opening match of the competition, Barça now face a much sterner test. The Bulgarians are outsiders in the group, while Werder could be seen as dark horses and, despite last season's results against them, are a team that Frank Rijkaard's side must consider to be strong opposition. For the game on Wednesday evening (20:45 C ), Dutch coach could recall Lilian Thuram and Thiago Motta to the starting line-up after the duo were rested for the game against Valencia at the weekend. For the home side, Miroslav Klose looks set to be fit to play.
No Gio in Bremen: The main absentee from the squad for the match is Gio Van Bronckhorst. The Holland international has played in every Champions League game since joining Barça. Last season he started in all 13 matches, but will not be playing against Werder as he has been left at home with Sylvinho set to play at left-back. Continuing with his rotation policy, Rijkaard has also left out Rafa Márquez, Javier Saviola and Santi Ezquerro, who is still recovering from from a muscle strain in his leg and trained alone on Tuesday.
Thuram and Motta are likely to be named in the side to add more physical power against Werder. The only other question mark over the initial team will be whether Rijkaard names Leo Messi or Ludovic Giuly to play on the right side of the attack. The Argentinian international made his European debut for Barcelona in Germany against Werder Bremen last season.
Klose is the main threat: Werder Bremen go into the encounter having played five games this season without tasting victory. With two defeats and a draw in the league, the team have also been beaten in their opening Champions League outing and in the German Cup. The home side will, therefore, be out to break the bad run against the current European champions. The return of Klose is vital. The World Cup Finals' top goalscorer this year has finally recovered from an ankle injury that saw him miss out on Werder's game against Hamburg at the weekend. Other star names that Barcelona will have watch out for are Diego, the Brazilian that joined the club during the summer, and experienced German international midfielders Torsten Frings and Tim Borowski.
Favourable history: FC Barcelona and Werder Bremen have met on four previous occasions, with the Blaugrana winning three of them and one draw. The first games were in the European Super Cupin 1992. Barça were European Cup winners and Werder had lifted the Cup Winners' Cup that year. After drawing in Germany, Barcelona won the second leg in Camp Nou 2-1 to win the trophy. Last season the two teams were paired in the group stages of the Champions League. After winning 2-0 in Bremen, Barça then made it two-out-of-two with a 3-1 victory at home. Despite those wins, Rijkaard has already stated that memories of last season should be set aside as the focus is solely on the game on Wednesday.