Strug­gling Dort­mund tar­get last 16 spot

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Borus­sia Dort­mund are look­ing to hold top spot in Group F with a win over Sport­ing Lis­bon to­day to put them in the Cham­pi­ons League’s knock-out stages.

Dort­mund en­joyed a 2-1 win at Sport­ing a fort­night ago with goals by Pier­reEm­er­ick Aubameyang and mid­fielder Ju­lian Weigl, his first for the club, to leave them top of the group on goal dif­fer­ence from de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Real Madrid.

Dort­mund will book a last 16 place with vic­tory at their Sig­nal Iduna Park against third-placed Sport­ing, who are four points be­hind both Borus­sia and sec­ond-placed Real Madrid. Dort­mund’s fi­nal group match at Real on De­cem­ber 7 is likely to set­tle who will win the group, but for now the fo­cus is on Sport­ing.

“We need to put the whole pack­age on the pitch,” said Dort­mund coach Thomas Tuchel. “Any­thing else would be light­hearted and un­pro­fes­sional. I’m count­ing on Sport­ing show­ing their best side.”

How­ever, Jorge Je­sus-coached Sport­ing have a mis­er­able record in Ger­many. They have have never won in Ger­many with one draw and 11 de­feats, while Dort­mund have a 100 per­cent home record against Por­tuguese sides in Europe with four wins in four games.

But Tuchel’s Dort­mund have strug­gled of late. They are win­less in their last four Bun­desliga match, dat­ing back to late Septem­ber, and were held to a goal­less league draw at home by ri­vals Schalke on Satur­day in the Ruhr derby.

“It feels very tough, as if you were to fight very hard for ev­ery lit­tle thing,” fumed Tuchel.

Their only wins in Oc­to­ber were at Sport­ing and last week’s penalty shoot-out vic­tory over sec­ond divi­sion Union Ber­lin in the sec­ond round of the Ger­man Cup.

World Cup-win­ner Mario Goetze has said re­cent re­sults have left a bad feel­ing. “We have to re­ward our­selves bet­ter,” he added. The rea­son for their dip in form has been a hor­rific run of in­juries. Pier­reEm­er­ick Aubameyang (calf), Marc Bar­tra (groin) and Chris­tian Pulisic (ill) missed the penalty shoot-out win over Union last Wed­nes­day, but were in­volved in Satur­day’s goal­less draw with Schalke. Aubameyang and Pulisic played in the Ruhr derby while Bar­tra was an un­used sub­sti­tute. Club cap­tain Mar­cel Sch­melzer has been out since Oc­to­ber 14 with a groin in­jury, while Andre Schuer­rle and Raphael Guer­reiro both made sub­sti­tute ap­pear­ances on Satur­day af­ter in­jury spells.

Sven Ben­der (an­kle), Marco Reus (groin), Neven Subotic (ribs) and Erik Durm (knee) are all long-term ab­sen­tees.

Reus is back in full train­ing, but will not fea­ture against Sport­ing. Di­rec­tor of sport Michael Zorc says the pri­or­ity is to beat Sport­ing to put them in the knock-out stages so they can con­cen­trate on their league form ahead of Satur­day’s away league match at bot­tom side Ham­burg. “We def­i­nitely want to un­der­line our good po­si­tion with a vic­tory, be­cause we need to fo­cus on the league af­ter­wards,” said Zorc. — AFP

DORT­MUND: Dort­mund’s head coach Thomas Tuchel ad­dresses a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, the eve of the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League Group F foot­ball match be­tween BVB Borus­sia Dort­mund and Sport­ing CP in Dort­mund, western Ger­many. — AFP

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