Bullish Real get ready for Werder Bremen

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MADRID, Sep 17 (Reuters) Real Madrid defender Fabio Cannavaro believes Werder Bremen will be in for a torrid time in tomorrow's Champions League opener after the Spaniards' flying start to the Primera Liga season.

New coach Bernd Schuster has steered the Spanish champions to the top of the table with three wins from three, their best start to a league season in 16 years. He now faces his first test with them on the European stage in Group C.

''We want to start the Champions League in the best way possible, in the same way that we have in the league,'' Cannavaro told the club's Web site (www.realmadrid.com) after Saturday's 3-1 victory against Almeria.

''In the pre-season, there was a lot of criticism of Real Madrid, people said we didn't play well and weren't a good team. I think we have given them a response with good football and with our current run.

''We are a side who will give every team we face a hard time.'' The nine-times European champions, who will be playing their 300th match in Europe's elite competition, have suffered opening day defeats in their last three seasons, but have only lost twice at home to German opposition in 21 matches.

Last season's top scorer Ruud van Nistelrooy was rested against promoted Almeria. Although Real laboured, his Dutch compatriot Wesley Sneijder shone again, scoring his fourth goal in three matches.

Argentina left back Gabriel Heinze is a doubt after he was substituted at halftime with a muscle strain.

HUMILIATING DEFEAT Werder's injury hit side suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund on Friday night, a result that left them down in 13th place in the Bundesliga table with just seven points from five games.

''If we play the same way we'll get another hiding,'' team manager Klaus Allofs told reporters.

''I didn't see anything positive. You can lose at a place like this, but the way we did it I didn't like at all.'' Werder's problem is that with Torsten Frings, Tim Borowski, Carlos Alberto and Clemens Fritz all injured, they lacked security in midfield and ideas in attack.

The only small piece of good news for Tuesday is that promising young striker Martin Harnik is fit again after an ankle injury.

Otherwise, coach Thomas Schaaf will need Brazilian playmaker Diego at his wily best if they are to cause Real problems.

Diego was taken off at half-time against Dortmund, when they were already 3-0 down, with a minor injury.

Probable teams: Real Madrid: 1-Iker Casillas; 15-Royston Drenthe, 5-Fabio Cannavaro, 21-Christoph Metzelder, 4-Sergio Ramos; 23-Wesley Sneijder, 6-Mahamadou Diarra, 14-Guti, 10-Robinho; 7-Raul, 17-Ruud van Nistelrooy.

Werder Bremen: 1-Tim Wiese; 3-Petri Pasanen, 29-Per Mertesacker, 4-Naldo, 13-Dusko Tosic; 7-Jurica Vranjes, 10-Diego, 6-Frank Baumann, 20-Daniel Jensen; 18-Boubacar Sanogo, 23-Hugo Almeida.

Referee: Howard Webb (England) Reuters BJR DB1015

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