Juergen Klopp: Dortmund can beat best
Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp admits that Real Madrid are favourites to progress from their upcoming Champions League quarterfinal tie, but told Marca that his "Cinderella" team can still beat anybody on their day.
The two teams met four times in last season's competition, with Dortmund coming out on top over two group-stages meetings, and then progressing in the semifinals 4-3 on aggregate.
BVB's lineup this year will this year will look very different given a lengthy injury list, and centre-forward Robert Lewandowski -- who scored four times against Madrid in last season's semifinal first leg -- being suspended for Wednesday's game at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.
However, the German coach remains confident his team can beat any opposition in a head-to-head meeting.
"With our budget and our injury list, which includes [Neven] Subotic, [Sven] Bender, [Ilkay] Gundogan, [Jakub] Blaszczykowski and [Marcel] Schmelzer... there is no doubt we are the underdog of the tie -- the Cinderella," Klopp said.
"But I always say we do not need to be the best team in the world, we just need to be able to beat the best team in the world in a direct contest.
"And Dortmund can beat the best. That is the most important thing for me. We will have a chance and we can take it."
Dortmund appeared to have last year’s semifinal under control with a 4-1 aggregate lead and the second leg almost over, before goals from Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos almost turned the tie around.
"The last 10 minutes of that game had a tremendous emotional intensity," Klopp said. "What tension!
"We knew what to expect at the Bernabeu and until the referee blew the final whistle I never felt we were through. I will always remember that night.
"That final whistle was a special and unique moment in all our careers. And then it turned into a very long night."
Klopp also believes that this season’s Blancos boss Carlo Ancelotti has a better side than the one Jose Mourinho managed last year.
"They have bought very good players like [Gareth] Bale and Isco," he continued. "They have tremendous strength in all areas, a very complete squad and are very prepared to take on all competitions.
"I believe this Madrid have improved since last season. They have a great attacking power and can defend well."
The 46-year-old said he had never experienced anything like the string of injuries which has affected Dortmund throughout the current campaign, but praised his side for battling through the adversity.
"This has been a very difficult season for us, right since the start," Klopp said. "We have faced extraordinary challenges and an unprecedented injury crisis. I have never seen anything like it.
"But, with all this, we are in place to achieve our list of objectives for the season. We are second in the Bundesliga, we are in the cup final and have reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League after winning the toughest group. That is the same as last season."
Dortmund also had to deal with last season’s star playmaker Mario Goetze leaving for rivals Bayern Munich in the summer, but Klopp said the players consequently brought in had all strengthened the team.
"We never complain," he added. "We have also signed good players like [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan, [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang and Sokratis, who were on the agendas of Europe's top clubs.
"They are three players who have fit in well to our system and have reinforced us. I insist… I am not complaining and we are going to play Madrid with what we have, trying to do as well as possible. We have the second leg at home, something which I was very happy about after the draw."