Ramelow plays down advantage
By Thomas Zeh
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Carsten Ramelow does not believe playing in an empty stadium will aid his team.
Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Carsten Ramelow does not believe playing their UEFA Champions League match with Roma in an empty stadium will aid his team.
Roma must play two games behind closed doors after referee Anders Frisk was injured by a coin thrown from the crowd at the Olympic Stadium during their stormy Champions League game against Dynamo Kiev.
Ramelow has experienced similar situations in the past and fears that it might prove counter-productive.
"I prefer to play in a stadium that is full, because then the atmosphere forces your team to stick together and be fully focused right from the start," said Ramelow.
"Once we played against Juventus and there were only a couple of thousand fans in the Delle Alpi, we never got going and lost 4-0."
Ramelow is expected to captain Bayer against Roma as regular skipper Jens Nowotny may be rested.
Out-of-form striker Franca is also unlikely to start as Ukrainian youngster Andrej Voronin looks to continue his goalscoring exploits following a hat-trick in last weeks' 3-2 Bundesliga triumph over Bielefield.
Bayer coach Klaus Augenthaler is likely to start Dimatar Berbatov with Voronin up-front and Brazilian star Robson Ponte looking to support from midfield.
With Roma, Real Madrid, and Bayer all on six points at the half-way stage of Group B Ramelow acknowledges the importance of producing a disciplined performance against Roma.
"We have to be careful against Roma, who will try to provoke us, but coming third in our group won't be enough for us, we want to get into the knock-out stages," noted Ramelow.