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December 06, 2006

Barcelona advanced to the next stage after beating Bremen

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Ronaldinho, is proving day by day that hi is a player from another galaxy. The Brazilian scored with a free-kick that went under a five-man defensive wall in a 2-0 triumph against Werder Bremen yesterday. The quintet jumped, anticipating a chipped shot, but the ball passed under them into the net.

"It was pure magic" Barcelona's player Thiago Motta told reporters. "I saw from his face he was going to do something different but we couldn't imagine it would be something like that. He is a really sensational player."

In fact, Ronaldinho also helped set up Eidur Gudjohnsen's goal as Barcelona climbed above Bremen in their group and avoided becoming the first defending champion to exit in the Champions League group phase. We can say that Bremen, which had needed a draw to advance, was eliminated and enters the second-tier UEFA Cup.

We must consider that Bremen goalkeeper Tim Wiese remonstrated with the defensive wall about Ronaldinho's goal, while team coach Thomas Schaaf said ``it could have been avoided.''

"It really complicated the situation for us" Schaaf told a news conference. The 13th-minute strike buoyed Barcelona in a game it needed to win to reach the round of 16.

And five minutes later, Ronaldinho Gaucho sprayed a crossfield pass to Ludovic Giuly, which the French winger delivered to Gudjohnsen. The Iceland forward scored to make it 2-0.

Roared on by 95,000 fans at Camp Nou stadium, Barcelona fluffed chances to increase the lead. Gudjohnsen beat four players before hitting the post in the 35th minute and Giuly failed to convert the rebound as he shot wide of an open goal.

What's more, Werder Bremen, cheered on by former Wimbledon tennis champion Boris Becker, rallied in the second half, with Daniel Jensen hitting the crossbar with a lob in the 61st minute.

In the other game, English champion Chelsea beat Levski Sofia 2-0 yesterday, and topped the group ahead of Barcelona. Bremen enters the UEFA Cup by virtue of finishing third.

It's important to mention that the draw for the next round is on Dec. 15, with the two-leg games scheduled for Feb. 20 and March 7. That may give Barcelona time to recoup top striker Samuel Eto'o and playmaker Lionel Messi. In fact, both are due to return from injuries in February.

"Our team will be nearly complete," Barcelona President Joan Laporta told reporters. "We've overcome adversity with a lot of effort and hard work. You have to be proud of this group of players."