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Nov 25, 2013

Juergen Klopp calms crisis talk

Borussia Dortmund boss Juergen Klopp has played down talk of a crisis as his side prepare for a crunch Champions League clash with Napoli.

Dortmund, finalists in last year’s competition, are in danger of falling at the first hurdle this time around as, with two games remaining, they trail Group F leaders Arsenal and Napoli by three points.

They are currently on a run of three straight defeats in all competitions and Klopp told a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s match at the Westfalenstadion: “For the good of football, we need to win tomorrow.”

• Johnson: UCL group permutations
• Buczko: High stakes for Dortmund

Klopp believes Dortmund are part of “maybe the best and maybe the most exciting group” in this year’s competition, but if Arsenal beat Marseille then BVB would be condemned to the Europa League should they fail to claim all three points against Napoli.

That would mean Arsenal would head to Naples on the final matchday with only top spot to contest.

“There is a lot of pressure on this game,” Klopp added. “If it works out like we hope it works out, we certainly have the most exciting group. It would just be cool for everyone, and mean Arsenal cannot field their C-team players at Napoli.

“We need to win the next two matches in our group, and have to start with that tomorrow.”

Dortmund had beaten Stuttgart 6-1 on Nov. 1 but then lost 1-0 to Arsenal, 2-1 to Wolfsburg and, most recently, 3-0 at home to title rivals Bayern Munich.

On Monday, German tabloid Bild’s headline suggested that Dortmund have entered their first “Klopp crisis.”

However, the coach said: “We can’t influence how the phases we are going through are labelled. We have lost three games in a row. That is a fact. There’s no question that we’d love to have a few more points, but we just don’t have them.”

Klopp does not believe Dortmund’s poor run will favour Napoli.

“It’s only an advantage for them if we play bad football,” he said. “Those defeats will not throw us off track [but] tomorrow will be a difficult game. Napoli have quality.”

Dortmund began their Champions League campaign with a 2-1 defeat at Napoli on Sept. 18, and at that stage the two clubs had led their domestic leagues.

Since that time, Dortmund have dropped to third in the Bundesliga and Napoli have dropped to third in Serie A, after back-to-back defeats to Juventus and Parma.

“I don’t think there is any crisis talk in Napoli right now,” Klopp said. “Maybe it will be the meeting of two crisis clubs and nobody will realise it.”

Meanwhile, Dortmund centre-back Sokratis Papastathopoulos told the news conference he is hopeful of victory against the Italian side despite it being a “difficult task” for the hosts.

“Everyone knows what’s at stake,” he said. “We are programmed to win it, are ready and have it in our hands. It is a final.”

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