It has been a tough start to European football this season for the Bundesliga clubs. Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig know the time to get their first wins are running out as they face crucial tests on Tuesday.
After all the excitement surrounding Peter Bosz’s start at Borussia Dortmund, the club’s head coach faces question marks whether his side can get it right against bigger teams.
In Europe, Bosz and Dortmund have the chance to get their confidence back with a trip to Cyprus, but is pushing for a top-two spot in their group the best plan?
“We want to win both games against APOEL,” captain Marcel Schmelzer said, who flew with the squad and hopes to return to action after five weeks out. Clearly, Dortmund want to win all the games they play and six points from these two outings will put them back into a competitive spot in their group.
But given Tottenham Hotspur and Real Madrid’s strength, Dortmund face the dilemma of whether to push for progression or focus on the Bundesliga where they lead Bayern Munich by two points.
“There is no reason to stick our heads in the sand,” said Nuri Sahin. “We were defensively very poor. That was not Borussia Dortmund standard,” said Bosz after the Leipzig game.
Given how poorly German clubs have performed so far in Europe this season, the pressure will be on both Dortmund and RB Leipzig (who are also in action on Tuesday night) to pick up much-needed victories.
“If we still want to have a chance of advancing, then we have to win in Nicosia,” said BVB sporting director Michael Zorc. “We go there as favorites and must show why.”
If Dortmund fail to do so, then not only will their European dreams be in tatters but so will their confidence ahead of their trip to Frankfurt next Saturday.
Leipzig looking for lift-off
RB Leipzig are hoping to get their Champions League campaign off the ground when they host two-time winners Porto.
Ralph Hasenhüttl’s side has yet to light up the Champions League in the way they have the Bundesliga and are still looking for their first win following a home draw with last season’s semi-finalists Monaco and a deflating defeat by Besiktas last time out.
Leipzig are coming off the back of a morale-boosting 3-2 win at Bundesliga leaders Dortmundon Saturday – and managed to do it without star men Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg.
Hasenhüttl is expected to call upon Forsberg and Naby Keita, but Werner could remain on the bench as he continues to recover from injury. However, the coach said in Monday’s pre-match press conference that he believes Jeffrey Bruma can provide the attacking edge Leipzig otherwise lack in Werner’s absence.
“We’re going to have to see how things go with Timo Werner before deciding whether he starts or comes from the bench. But the impetus Bruma provides up front is great and he brings important qualities to the table,” Hasenhüttl said.
The Leipzig coach has called on his team to maintain the level of performance they showed in Dortmund.
“The key for us is ensuring that the team maintain optimum levels of performance. Our added depth has helped. This is a game that will be decided by the smallest of details, but we’re confident we can get our first Champions League win,” Hasenhüttl said. Now it’s time for RB Leipzig’s actions to speak louder than the words of their head coach.