65 mins "Gareth Bale joins Sergio 'kun' Aguero in the hallowed pantheon of footballers who look disturbingly like Japanese cartoons," insists Alex Hanton, wading into our discussion on the Welshman's lookalikes. "I can see them having their own Sunday morning show over there fighting tentacle monsters or something, after they retire from football . I'm guessing Aguero would be the hero with Bale as the vaguely annoying comic relief."
64 mins Tottenham are beginning to control the tempo of this game again, seeing some significant possession as they look for a way to unlock this Bremen defence once again. I do wonder if they're being a bit too patient, mind - Bremen have looked most vulnerable to speed on the counter-attack.
62 mins ... from which Crouch is penalised for leaning on a defender.
61 mins Bale has the beating of Fritz down the left for Tottenham again, but his low cross flies all the way across the heart of the area before Lennon chases it down on the far side. His own centre is blocked behind for a corner ...
59 mins Marin remains at the heart of everything Bremen are doing right here - this time weaving and juking his way down to the goalline, wriggling out of one challenge then another despite having less than a foot of space to work in before his attempted centre is finally blocked up and into the arms of a grateful Cudicini.
57 mins "It's my birthday and I get same old-same old - rained-out day of County Cricket and my heart broken by the Spurs," sniffs Jenya Romanski. "They're gloriously consistent. I suppose, I can look forward to about seventy years of the same." I wouldn't rule out a Spurs win here yet Jenya, but even if they don't manage it you should look on the bright side - 70 years suggests you're either still young or exceptionally healthy.
56 mins What a chance that was for Bremen! Almeida got goalside of the Tottenham centre-halves as he chased a long ball forwards into the area but from 10 yards out he blazes his effort straight over the bar. A serious let-off for Tottenham, that.
54 mins Tottenham work the ball back and forth across the pitch just outside the Bremen area, impatiently probing for an opening in their hosts' defence. Eventually Bale chances his arm with a cross from the left, but it's easily claimed by Wiese.
52 mins Bremen come streaming back forwards into Tottenhams half and Marin's shot from 25 yards may well have been flying on target before it was blocked by Kaboul on the perimeter of the area. Where was all this attacking verve during the first 40 minutes of the match?
51 mins Missed opportunity for Tottenham there, as Jenas looks up inside the Bremen half and sees Bale streaming unmarked into the area from the left, but his pass is too close to Fritz and the defender cuts it out.
50 mins Ah, Sky have just confirmed that Van der Vaart had picked up a slight calf strain in the first half, and they were giving him a few minutes to try to run it off. He clearly couldn't.
49 mins Van der Vaart has come off to be replaced by Robbie Keane. We saw the latter warming up at half-time, but it still seems a curious move to take off a player who had been doing so well so early in the half. Presumably an injury of some sort ...
GOAL! Werder Bremen 2-2 Tottenham (Marin 47 mins) The corner was again cleared by Tottenham, but their attempted counter didn't even get as far as the half-way line, as Marin won the ball and rushing forwards, sliding towards the middle of the D before letting rip with an violently-struck low effort that rocketed straight into the bottom-corner. And just like that, Tottenham's incredible start is wiped out.
46 mins A fine save from Cudicini to start the half - the goalkeeper thrusting out a strong arm to push Hunt's vicious effort from just outside the area over the bar.
46 mins Bremen get the second-half underway. Tottenham, you'll be relieved to hear, are now back out. "Thanks for the updates. I am on the last day of my honeymoon in the South of France and have just come back from a romantic dinner in an excellent restarant," writes Matt Loren. "After trying many different methods to coerce the better half into going somewhere to watch the match, I've realised that of course she's right and have decided to 'catch up on work emails instead'. Ah... I can see the years of deception spreading out in front of me already."
Werder Bremen are back out But Tottenham aren't. Lazy blighters.
My heritage "Are you any relation to the great Lorenzo Bandini, who drove Ferraris with great aplomb in the early/mid 60s," asks John Moloney. "I remember seeing him at the first GP I ever went to. At around which time football commentators used to regularly describe a beaten goalkeeper as 'the hapless guardian'. To see the phrase given new life in the hapless Guardian would give me great pleasure." To the best of my knowledge, the answer to your first question is "no". I'll see what I can do on the second point.
Crucial Crouch "I said it before the World Cup and everyone thought I was crazy, but England should forget about Rooney and base the team around Crouch," chirrups Desmond "crazy" Chisholm. "I don't think he even got a minute in SA. Absolute nuts." Actually I think he came on as a sub a couple of times Desmond, but I take your point to an extent. I think teams that are unfamiliar with Crouch struggle to deal with him massively as he's such an unusual type of player. He's less effective in the Premier League where teams know how he plays, but in Europe and for England I think he can be very dangerous.
Bale's appearance "Gareth Bale looks more specifically like the shameful result of a secret tryst between Tim Henman and a chimp," insists Nick Pettigrew. Ed Wilson, on the other hand, suggests Wolverine from X-Men.
Bale's accuracy "Much as I love elf bale, - surely he cannot be more accurate than Bloom," insists Matthew Bainton in response to Alex Turowski (29 mins). "Honestly I just don't think he could hit Crouchy from the touchline were he sliding down the trunk of a giant elephant."
Peepety-peeeeep! There's time for Bremen to win a corner before the half is out, but they've had absolutely no joy from such set-pieces so far tonight and this one is no different. Tottenham go into the break with a lead they would have gladly taken before kick-off, but one they will be disappointed with in the context. Back in a tick with half-time emails.
45 mins We'll have one minute of time added on.
GOAL! Werder Bremen 1-2 Tottenham (43 mins) And just like that Bremen are back in the game. Assou-Ekotto was at fault twice - first hoofing the ball out for a throw-in when under no pressure midway inside his own half, then failing to beat Almeida to a header on the corner of his six-yard box after the ensuing throw-in set up Wesley to put the cross into the area. Not a lot Cudicini could have done about the header at such close range.
42 mins "Is it just me or does Gareth Bale look like Pete's Dragon," muses Graham Sherriff in response to Alex Turowski (29 mins). "I think it's the nostrils."
40 mins Marin gets the home fans' pulses racing with a burst down the left flank, but Corluka picks the ball off his feet with the neatest of tackles.
39 mins The Dutchman's second delivery is a beauty, arcing in towards the goalkeeper who, caught off guard, just about manages to punch it away with a curious and rather clumsy dive to his right.
38 mins Van der Vaart, a former Hamburg player, takes some abuse as he trots over to take a corner from the right, which is headed behind for another corner ...
36 mins Here's the substution for Bremen, at last. Philipp Bargfrede is the man who makes way for Hunt.
35 mins Tottenham win a corner on the left, which is knocked back from Kaboul to King, who swiftly moves it on to Lennon on the edge of the box. From him it goes back to Kaboul works his way out to the right to whip in another cross which is cleared only as far as Bale, whose low fizzed effort from just outside the area requires a sharp save from Wiese.
33 mins It might not make any sense tactically - given that Hunt normally plays both further forwards and on the opposite flank - but if I was the Bremen coach Thomas Schaaf I would be strongly considering taking off Fritz. He gives the ball away needlessly again on the half-way line, though this time Frings is able to rescue the situation before Tottenham can break.
32 mins Bremen are already lining up a change, Aaron Hunt beginning to change out of his tracksuit on the sideline. Don't know who's coming off yet, mind...
30 mins Dearie me - shocking from Fritz, who passes the ball straight to Bale on the edge of his own box, allowing the Welshman to surge straight past and drive low towards Wiese's near post. The keeper gets down well to parry, and the rebound just eludes an onrushing Huddlestone.
29 mins "Is it just me, or does Gareth Bale look like an elf from Lord of the Rings," asks Alex Turowski. "His accuracy certainly puts Orlando Bloom's character to shame."
28 mins The corner, as with all the others so far, comes to nothing.
27 mins Having said all that, they've just had a penalty shout turned down - and whilst it would have been harsh, you've seen them given. Marin did well to keep his feet as he reversed direction sharply to get a yard of space from Lennon on the edge of the box and his shot was clearly blocked by Huddlestone's arms as the Tottenham player raised them to protect his face. The referee's given a corner, though.
25 mins Bremen, understandably, look shell-shocked at the minute and even a rare corner is pumped into the box with what feels like an air of apathy. It is headed clear by Kaboul. They've hardly had a proper sight of goal all game.
23 mins Ah, it seems I mistakenly attributed the cross for Crouch's second to Bale when it actually came from Van der Vaart. In which case Peter McLeod's question is already void. Sorry.
21 mins "Reader poll: When will Tottenham next score a goal not attributable to the direct influence of Gareth Bale," muses Peter McLeod. It's a fair question - he's been Tottenham's best player in every one of their games I've seen this season.
20 mins Apologies, I've just been informed my email link wasn't working. If you could all just manually refresh your pages (auto-refresh won't hack it for this, I'm told), the working version should now be available.
19 mins Apparently that was an NCIS freeze-frame we were treated to there by Sky before the goal. Thought you should know.
GOAL! Werder Bremen 0-2 Tottenham (Crouch 18 mins) Well it turns out Tottenham were due a free-kick from whatever incident preceeded Frings's injury. From it they work the ball to Bale, who sends over another inch-perfect cross, which Crouch rises above Pasanen to head emphatically home. Crikey - what a start this has been.
17 mins Sky's coverage curiously cut to a freeze-frame of what looked like it might be some kind of 80s cop drama there for a second, but they've returned to find Frings lying on the floor clutching his leg.
15 mins Frings pumps a cross into the area from deep for Bremen but Arnautovic can't quite get high enough and his header was always flying over. Tottenham's fans are making plenty of noise at the minute. Bremen's aren't.
GOAL! Werder Bremen 0-1 Tottenham (Pasanen own goal 12 mins) Harry Redknapp doesn't even flinch on the Tottenham bench but his team have just scored their first ever goal in the Champions League proper. Gareth Bale raced down the left to reach a chipped ball forward before cutting a neat low pass square towards Peter Crouch. Pasanen, who had completely failed to keep up with the striker's run, lunged in desperately, but wound up prodding the ball into his own net.
11 mins An absolutely delightful long diagonal ball forward from Van der Vaart finds Crouch inside the area, but his header back across the edge of the box is cut out by Prodl. Touch of class, that, from the Dutchman.
9 mins Bremen certainly have lots of pace on the counter-attack and moments after Peter Crouch's stabbed effort is blocked at the near post by Wiese, Wesley comes flying forward down the left channel cutting inside before twisting straight back to drive a low, rasping effort just by Cudicini's right-hand post.
7 mins Bremen win a corner, which is half cleared, but Marin picks up on the loose ball and whips a curling, dipping effort from a short way outside the area over the bar.
6 mins A slightly scrappy opening so far to be honest - both teams showing plenty of pace and desire to get forwards, but neither of them capable of stringing three passes together on the slick Weserstadion pitch. Bizarrely, I've just been sent an update from Ipswich v QPR. "I'm sure you've got other things to be talking about, but a shoddy internet connection means I can't go on Twitter and tell the world about this, so you're my release valve," reports my colleague John Ashdown. "I'm at Ipswich v QPR and I've just seen a bat swooping in the Portman Road rafters. This has given me a pleasant warm feeling inside."
5 mins Marin does look like the one to worry about in the Bremen midfield, the crowd letting out a small roar of excitement as he zips forward from the centre circle with the ball. His attempted through-ball into the area, though, is cut-out by King.
3 mins Gareth Bale wins a free-kick for Tottenham about 30 yards out, but after much discussion Jenas simply clips the ball very gently up and over the bar. It's not even clear what he was trying to do, to be honest - far too weak for a shot but hugely off target if it was intended as a pass.
2 mins Tottenham make their first foray forward and Lennon skips straight past Silvestre before pulling back a deep cross from which Huddlestone has a shot blocked. So it looks like Silvestre is playing at left-back. Lennon could be in for an enjoyable evening ...
1 min Away we go. "So, I'm a West Ham fan. Regardless, this is the most excited I've been about a Champions League game in quite some time," relays Joe Neate. "It reminds me of the days when teams like Newcastle were in it, coming up against exciting European names (remember that game against Barcelona) before they all became over-familiar. For once I am actually rooting for an English team, because they're English, not willing them to lose because I am sick of them. It's just great to have someone different in it, isn't it?" I'm going to go out on a limb and say that you are in a minority among your West Ham-supporting peers.
My prediction Is that Tottenham are going to win this 2-1.
The view from Germany "Two Werder players were particularly good against Bayern last week, Weise (really bad hairstyle notwithstanding) made some spectacular saves in the goal," announces an emailer going only by the name Lynx. "Marin was also impressive with some fancy footwork and speedy runs down the field. But he almost scored an own goal. Given that Werder is an attacking team with a really poor defence, we can expect many goals to be scored and conceded. Go Green-Whites!"
An email "As a 38-year-old Tottenham fan, I can honestly say that there was a time when I expected to own a fully functioning hoverboard before I would ever see my team in the European Cup," parps Hugh Bland. "Then again, that time back in the days when they only let actual champions in. And right after watching Back to the Future."
If you're looking for omens ... Then here are a few somewhat random match pointers:
? Bremen won five of their six home games in the Europa League last year, drawing the other one.? The German team have faced English opposition twice in their history. They lost home and away to Arsenal in their 2000 Uefa Cup quarter-final, though the only players from that game still with Bremen are Torsten Frings and Claudio Pizarro (and the latter is injured tonight). They then split their games against Chelsea in the 2006-07 group stage, winning at home and losing away.? Tottenham have won three out of eight away games against German teams in Europe.? Their most recent trip to Germany was in 2006-07, when they beat Bayer Leverkusen 1-0.
Right then ... Tottenham's first ever Champions League group stage game. At times it felt like the club could wind up waiting for ever - indeed, at 3-0 down after 28 minutes in the Stade de Suisse they seemed less likely to reach the stage than Godot at the Théâtre de Babylone. But here they are and deservedly so. Tottenham made the mistake of taking Young Boys lightly that day but at their best they are more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with a team like Werder Bremen.
Injuries have hindered Harry Redknapp tonight, the absences of Jermain Defoe, Michael Dawson and Luka Modric forcing him into a re-shuffle. Then again, the manager himself has acknowledged since the away leg against Young Boys that he cannot get away with playing 4-4-2 on the road in Europe. Crouch is the most natural targetman on Tottenham's books and should be well suited to the 4-5-1 we expect to see tonight.
Bremen, meanwhile, have injuries of their own, forcing a significant re-shuffle in defence. Mikael Silvestre, set to start at either centre- or left-back tonight, has only been in training for little more than a fortnight, and admitted after his debut against Bayern Munich on Saturday that he was out of breath after 20 minutes or so. Imagine what sort of shape he could be in at the end of his second game in four days ...
Evening I'll get a proper preamble together in a few minutes but in the meantime I know you're probably itching for team news, so here goes:
Werder Bremen: Wiese, Fritz, Pasanen, Prodl, Silvestre, Frings,Bargfrede, Marin, Wesley, Arnautovic, Hugo Almeida. Subs: Mielitz, Boenisch, Borowski, Hunt, Huseinovic, Wagner, Jensen.Tottenham: Cudicini, Corluka, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Huddlestone, Lennon, Jenas, Bale, Van der Vaart, Crouch.Subs: Pletikosa, Pavlyuchenko, Keane, Palacios, Gallas, Bassong,Kranjcar.Referee: Massimo Busacca (Switzerland)
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