Marin Was Instrumental In His Side's Win Over Sampdoria. Mesut Who?

Werder Bremen would have known they had a job on their hands even after their 3-1 victory over Sampdoria in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying tie. With Sampdoria scoring a late away goal back in Germany through the ever-prolific Giampaolo Pazzini, they would only need two in Italy to put the Germans out of the competition for good.

Werder Bremen got to Italy with a depleted side, missing important first-team players Hugo Almeida, Naldo and Aaron Hunt through injury. Young striker Sandro Wagner got the start up top for Werder Bremen, and Pizarro dropped into the hole behind Wagner to dictate the play.

Wiese – Fritz, Prodl, Mertesacker, Pasanen – Frings, Borowski – Marin, Pizarro, Bargfrede – Wagner

Sampdoria, meanwhile, will have had the benefit of knowing exactly what was needed from them to clinch an important win and secure their place in the Champions League for this season. Pazzini and Cassano led the line for Sampdoria with aplomb, and Palombo marshalled the midfield in a very Torsten Frings fashion.

Curci – Stankevicius, Gastaldello, Volta, Ziegler – Semioli, Palombo, Dessena, Guberti – Cassano – Pazzini

The first half started with Sampdoria pressing the Germans back into their own half and getting quick crosses into the box from Cassano and Semioli. Sampdoria’s pressure told so quickly that the Italians had put two passed Wiese within five minutes of eachother. On eight minutes, Pazzini hit a towering header into the back of the net at Wiese’s near post, and on 13 minutes, it was Pazzini again with an absolutely stunning volley and hit the back of the net before Wiese even had a look at it.

Pazzini's First Half Brilliance Wasn't Enough Against Resilient Werder Bremen.

Sampdoria looked to be in cruise control. Time and again Prodl was beaten by Pazzini and Borowski was turned by Cassano. The side from Bremen looked lacklustre and out of ideas after a shock 4-1 loss to Hoffenheim on the weekend. Marko Marin struggled to get into the game early on, and Werder Bremen looked like a side destined for the Europa League by half-time.

Once the second half had come, Werder Bremen tightened things up and were just a little bit more effective while in possession. Frings’ strength workrate boosted Werder Bremen and they began to force Sampdoria into making costly mistakes. With no breakthrough yet for Bremen, Schaaf was forced into making some telling substitutions. Want-away striker Markus Rosenberg entered the fray for the seemingly disinterested Tim Borowski, and his impact would be one to write home about.

Still, Sampdoria chased a third goal that would nearly guarantee their qualification for the Champions League. And it came. On 85 minutes, it was the mercurial character that is the one they call Fantantonio, whose savoury back-heel beat Tim Wiese and sent the crowd into raptures. They had surely done it now!

Werder Bremen, in typical German fashion, seemed to have no idea that they were well and truly beaten. Marko Marin turned on the noise in the face of adversity and ran Marius Stankevicius ragged everytime the little German was on the ball, and his class and quality proved to be the difference in the end. Marin played Rosenborg the ball at the edge of the box, and after some clever dribbling and a good look up, Markus Rosenborg blasted the ball into the far corner of the net and sent Werder Bremen immediately into extra-time with just minutes left to the final whistle.

Sampdoria were left deflated by the late goal and seemingly ran out of energy and Werder Bremen retained control of the match. More magic from Marin down the left and then a smart ball into Pizarro allowed the Peruvian striker to smash one home and send Werder Bremen into the Champions League.

In the preview I wrote for this match, I said that this tie has all the makings to become a classic. Well, not even I thought it’d be this good!