Werder Bremen go into their match against Real Madrid needing to win to retain any hopes of advancing in the Champions League, and they must do it without Diego.
With one victory from four games, Werder are bottom of Group C with three points, while Real lead the way with eight points.
"Real are not so overwhelming that we have to say we have nothing to seek in this game," sports director Klaus Allofs said ahead of tonight's match at Bremen's Weserstadion. "But the absence of so many players will only reinforce our role as underdog."
Bremen have been battling an endless series of injuries since the start of the season. Now they will also be without their best player, midfielder Diego, who is suspended.
Real are also depleted. Gabriel Heinze and Wesley Sneijder have stayed in Spain after failing to recover from knee injuries, while Royston Drenthe and Roberto Soldado are also missing due to the flu.
Despite all their problems, Werder have put together a nine-match run without a loss in the Bundesliga and have climbed to second in the table, a point behind Bayern Munich, despite the departure to Bayern of striker Miroslav Klose and injuries to key players. The Germany midfielder Torsten Frings has hardly played this season because of a knee problem. New midfielder Carlos Alberto has failed to make an impact – except for a clash with striker Boubacar Sanogo in practice that put both players out.
Werder still won 2-0 at Energie Cottbus last Saturday, in a match that marked the return of Ivan Klasnic, eight months after his second kidney transplant, although the striker is not registered to play in the Champions League.
"When we made up the list, no one could imagine that Ivan would be back so soon," Allofs said.
Sanogo will be available for tonight's match and another reserve striker, Aaron Hunt, is available again after returning from an illness that had kept him out since the start of the season.
Real Madrid are coming off a 1-1 draw with Murcia in the Spanish league, when Arjen Robben made his first appearance in nearly two months, coming on as a 76th-minute substitute.
"I feel very well, the team is great and I feel psychologically strong, but it is never good for a player to be injured," Robben said.
Madrid took an early lead against Murcia through Robinho's goal in the ninth minute, but had to settle for a point after collapsing in the second half. Nevertheless, Madrid stayed top of La Liga as Villarreal also drew a day later.
Valencia will stick with goalkeeper Santiago Canizares for their must-win Champions League match against Schalke this evening, despite a costly error by the veteran over the weekend.
Canizares misplayed Jorge Lopez's long-range shot to give Racing Santander a 1-0 win, dropping Valencia into sixth place in the Spanish league with 24 points.
Germany goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand has started eight of Valencia's 13 league matches, winning five, but has lost both European games he started.
"I don't want to talk about this theme because it isn't good for one or the other, or the team," coach Ronald Koeman said yesterday. "The decision has been made: Canizares will play because it is an important position and you can't be changing it every week."
Valencia, quarter-finalists last year, are last in Group B with three points, one fewer than the German side. A loss for either club would end hopes of advancing out of the group stages.
Elsewhere, former Italy goalkeeper Walter Zenga has resigned as coach of Dinamo Bucharest. "We parted in civilised conditions," Zenga said. "We all wanted to get results together, but we did not succeed."
Zenga was appointed just over two months ago at Dinamo, who won the league title last year but have struggled this season. His resignation comes after Dinamo lost 1-0 at Steaua Bucharest on Sunday.
Dinamo are in seventh place in the league, 13 points behind league leaders CFR Cluj.
The Romanian club are also out of European competition, having been defeated by Lazio in the Champions League qualifiers and then by Swedish club Elfsborg in the Uefa Cup.
Dinamo have appointed former player Cornel Talnar as the club's new coach.Reuse content