Tactically this was a 4-4-2 diamond vs a straight 4-4-2 but the real battle was one of styles. The tireless onslaught of the Germans against the canny defending by the Italians. With 16 players on the pitch from the country in which their team played this was billed as the real fight between Serie A and the Bundesliga after the Inter team that beat Bayern Munich in May's final were hardly Italian.
This proved to be true this evening and it is the German side who have the advantage going into the second leg in a week's time in Italy. The match began with the Germans coming forward but were unable to break down the resolute Sampdoria defence that would hold on for so long. This was all summed up very nicely on 25 minutes when the TV coverage showed that possession was 66%-34% in favour of Werder Bremen. A few minutes later and they had nearly blown the house down as Almeida connected with a header from close range but the ball went over; clipping the bar on the way.
It was not all one way traffic as just after the half hour mark, Ziegler sent in a free kick from the right and Gastaldello had a good header on goal. It wouldn't have counted though as the referee blew for the foul. So goalless at half-time but an entertaining 45 minutes of football. Bremen were by far and away the more dominant side but did not look like scoring.
The second half began in the same vain until a moment of inspiration from Clemens Fritz in the 50th minute gave the game it's first goal. A poor clearance from the Doria defence gave the ball to Fritz who was about 30 yards out. He took the ball inside and hammered it across goal into the far top-left corner. Probably one of the best goals the right-back will score and potentially the most important too!
Sampdoria did not crack at this point and only about ten minutes later an attacking overload allowed Pazzini through one on one but he was denied an equaliser by the post. Only a few minutes after this Pazzini was through again but was marginally offside.
The main turning point in the game came in the 66th minute. A Werder Bremen corner hardly had time to enter the box before the ref had blown for a penalty and sent off Lucchini for tugging the shirt of a Bremen attacker. Both a controversial and harsh decision in my opinion. The commentator who I had on was ecstatic that finally a referee was doing something about this sort of thing which happens in every game but such a rule is impossible to enforce consistently and the 'foul' is hardly dangerous. Nevertheless Lucchini walked and Frings was fortunate to beat Curci who dived the right way.
A dis-orientated Sampdoria were then beaten again minutes later as Pizarro played a nice one-two with Almeida to beat the defence and then slotted home past Curci for 3-0. Sampdoria then began to settle back into the game but it was only in the 77th minute that they came close again with substitute Guberti curling a long-range effort wide of the post.
Sampdoria probably deserved something from the game and they got an away goal in the final minute as Stankevicius put in a cross form the right, Pazzini lost his marker and headed home. This is what the tie most probably needed. The German side are certainly favourites to go through but are unlikely to score against the Italian sides defence in Genoa next week. However, with Doria being forced to come forward and score at least two goals perhaps this could lead to gaps in the back line and an open game.
Man of the Match: Clemens Fritz
Fritz not only scored the fantastic goal which broke the deadlock but consistently pushed up the pitch on the right side and often looked a threat to the Sampdoria left.