Juergen Klopp hopes to have Robert Lewandowski and Mats Hummels available for Borussia Dortmund’s last-16 match at Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday.
With midfielder Sven Bender joining the likes of Ilkay Gundogan, Neven Subotic and Jakub Blaszczykowsi on the sidelines, Klopp already has to do without four players who started the 2013 Champions League final.
Hummels has not played for Dortmund since suffering an ankle injury in early February, while Lewandowski was not able to train on Sunday due to flu.
But the Germany centre-back was on board the plane to Russia earlier on Monday, and also took part in the final training session on Monday evening, with Klopp also hopeful of his striker’s involvement, telling a news conference: “I’d like to think that Robert Lewandowski will be able to play.”
Klopp also shot down claims that the injuries were connected to Dortmund’s intense style of football, adding: “It’s like it happens in normal life all the time. First your washing machine crashes, then the tumble dryer is dead in the water as well, and on top of that your TV set.”
Zenit qualified with only six points from their group stages, but Klopp believes that the Russian outfit are much better than “many German journalists and fans think”.
“That might be a bit unusual to survive a group with only six points, but they came in behind Atletico, the dark horse in Champions League this year,” Klopp said.
Dortmund's veteran captain Sebastian Kehl, who is likely to start in holding midfield, added that Zenit “will cause a sensation for Russia in the next couple of years” and said that BVB, going into the game on the back of a shock 3-0 defeat at Hamburg, will need to “stretch themselves” to make it to the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
“We have worked hard to get here,” Kehl said. “And we will take on this task with a lot confidence.”
Dortmund’s prematch news conference was somewhat farcical, given that the translator asked at the beginning, with Kehl and Klopp in attendance, “what are those two players are called?”
Lost in translation ;-) #zenitbvb— Borussia Dortmund (@BVB) February 24, 2014
One Russian journalist stated his hope that Zenit coach Luciano Spaletti “is better prepared than the translator,” while Dortmund headlined a piece on their official website “Lost In Translation.”