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Feb 10, 2014

Bender and Reus face spell on sidelines

Sven Bender and Marco Reus have been added to Borussia Dortmund’s lengthy injury list after both sustaining thigh problems during Saturday’s 5-1 defeat of Werder Bremen.

• Buczko: Dortmund rediscover form

What could have been a good weekend for Juergen Klopp and his Dortmund side ended on a sour note with the club having to announce the injuries of the two Germany internationals on Sunday.

Bender, 24, was diagnosed with a strained right thigh muscle and will miss up to one week of action, while Reus, 24, is expected to be out for two weeks after tearing the muscle fibres in his right thigh.

The two midfielders join Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan and Jakub Blaszczykowski on the sidelines.

Despite the injury blows, Dortmund players and officials were still delighted with their return to form against a struggling Bremen side.

Veteran defender Manuel Friedrich scored his first goal for the club, while both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Robert Lewandowski ended their recent drought.

In recent weeks, Mkhitaryan, 25, who joined Dortmund for a club-record transfer fee of 27.5 million euros from Shakhtar Donetsk last summer, has come under fire from German media for not living up to his potential.

But after 1,066 minutes without a goal, the midfielder struck twice on Saturday, putting in a hugely impressive display. Mkhitaryan was named “Player of the Week” by kicker and was also praised by Dortmund CEO Aki Watzke.

“On days like this, he is not worse than Mario Goetze,” Watzke told kicker. “The art now is that he maintains this level.”

Dortmund coach Klopp was equally relieved about Mkhitaryan’s return to form, but insisted that he has never questioned the player’s ability.

“We know exactly what he’s capable of, something football fans and journalists tend to forget,” Klopp told the club’s official website. “If things don’t go according to plan for two or three weeks, everything is questioned. We don’t do that.

“Nevertheless, it’s important to show this level of performance in the games as well. We will work on this. We know he has the quality, and he and we are aware that he should show this more often."

Mkhitaryan added: “I might have sometimes put too much pressure on myself. I hope I continue like that.”

Lewandowski, who was searching for his first goal in nearly 500 minutes, also caught the eye. The striker scored a brace, and Klopp was full of praise for the Bayern Munich-bound player after the game.

“You will not hear a bad word from me about Robert,” Klopp said, praising his “exceptional development” since joining the club in 2010. “He has a very good attitude for the game, and also for the team and the club. The fact that he’s leaving us at the end of the season is part of football.”

Lewandowski was equally delighted and said that Dortmund “are heading in the right direction again.”

He added: “We have shown that we are still a good team. We have seen the old and the new Borussia.”

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