Kehl primed for Dortmund title defence
Borussia Dortmund captain Sebastian Kehl believes his side "must step up" in order to beat Werder Bremen in their opening Bundesliga fixture after a mediocre pre-season.
The reigning German champions, who also won the DFB Pokal to claim a first ever Double in May, go into their first match of the season having struggled for form and results.
Dortmund were defeated by Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup, and also lost on penalties to Werder in the recent Liga Total! Cup competition.
However, Kehl is expecting a significant improvement for Friday's Bundesliga opener and warned that Jurgen Klopp's side should not be judged on their summer performances.
"I am confident our play against the ball is much better than in our last Werder match," Kehl told kicker. "We have tactically worked towards that in training,
"It is the same story year after year. You can't judge from pre-season how the season will turn out. We had some bad pre-seasons and then played a good season and the other way round. Problems before the start are not a decisive factor how a season turns out to be."
Asked about the burden of being made title favourites he replied: "People say we are favourites not least because we have won back to back titles and also won the cup. The other teams will try their best to look good against us. Adding to that, a lot of teams have in parts copied our style of football in parts."
The Dortmund captain, who is heading into his 12th season with the club, has been delighted with the summer arrivals at the Westfalenstadion and is tipping one of them, Marco Reus, to make a big impact.
"Marco has assimilated in character super fast. He is taking on our special way of playing better every day," Kehl said. "Marco has a great attacking quality, I am very confident he will be very successful for us.
"He will also be challenged to work when we do not have possession of the ball. That's what the coach requests, that's what our system requests, but that is nothing he can't put into practice. I don't have any worries."
Kehl also spoke about Robert Lewandowski, for whom Dortmund reportedly rejected a €30 million offer from Manchester United earlier this summer, insisting the Poland striker's focus is solely on his current club.
"Robert is 100% Borussia," Kehl said. "He has gone full throttle in pre-season and is in great shape."