Klopp keen to go out with a bang
DORTMUND -- Juergen Klopp has played down Borussia Dortmund’s chances of Champions League progress, claiming his side’s aim is “to say goodbye with a good match” against Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Dortmund lost the first leg of their quarterfinal by a convincing 3-0 scoreline at the Bernabeu last week but supporters of last season’s finalists have nonetheless been dreaming of an unlikely turnaround.
Outside of Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion, a video wall shows Lars Ricken’s historic goal in the 1997 Champions League final victory over Juventus, while local newspapers have been talking up the possibility of a “miracle” -- particularly with top scorer Robert Lewandowski ready to return to the starting lineup following his suspension in the first leg.
Klopp, however, was more realistic in his assessment, telling reporters at Dortmund’s prematch news conference: “The Madrid result makes things easy for us. We need to win first. And I don’t really get the talk about an early goal for us. Should we score in the fifth minute and follow that up with only mistakes, it won’t help us.”
“I don’t know how many miracles occurred that were announced beforehand. We can only give it our all and deliver good entertainment for our fans. And should we reach a point where we believe that we can turn things around, than we will work on it. But other than that we only want to say goodbye with a good match.”
“Really, in Champions League it is all about pushing back the time of elimination from the competition. Last year, we got eliminated in the final, and this year it looks like we might get eliminated in the quarterfinals. But our opponent is one of the major favourites to win the Champions League.”
In the home leg of the semifinals of the 2012-13 competition, Lewandowski famously scored four goals against Los Blancos, which were ultimately enough to take Dortmund into the Wembley final at Madrid’s expense.
And on Saturday, Lewandowski led BVB to a 2-1 comeback victory over Wolfsburg, with the outgoing Dortmund striker aiming to make another major impact on the Champions League before he leaves for Bayern Munich this summer.
“They have been four unbelievable years here in Dortmund,” Lewandowski said at the news conference. “But it’s not over yet, we still have a few games to play. When I got here from Poznan, I knew that this was a club where I could develop. I trained hard and wanted to become a better player.
“I was a bit sad that I was not able to play in Madrid. Should someone think I can score four goals again, he certainly is a bit crazy. [But] We want to step on the gas when we play in Dortmund. And we are always dangerous here.”
Last season’s four-goal haul had brought Lewandowski onto the radar of Real Madrid, and speaking at the news conference Lewandowski confirmed that he had met with Florentino Perez, and “chatted for a while.” However, the Poland striker refused to confirm talks had reached a more concrete stage before he agreed to join Bayern.