Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel talks up Monaco challenge

Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel believes his side are underdogs for tonight’s Champions League quarter-final with Monaco.

Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel talks up Monaco challenge

The Germans welcome the Ligue 1 leaders to the Westfalenstadion tonight, sitting fourth in the Bundesliga after suffering a 4-1 defeat at rivals Bayern Munich on Saturday, and Tuchel feels Monaco’s superior domestic form may give them a small advantage.

“Monaco have lots of players who impress us,” he said. “We think they have outstanding individual talent, but they are also very compact as a team and athletically strong.

“It’s a very complete package with an outstanding coach who has a distinctive style. They have big personalities and good young players.

“It is a 50-50 game, but the momentum (is) slightly on their side. But we feel ready for this great match, to show what we can do and to win it.”

Dortmund suffered injuries to key players in recent weeks, but they could welcome back a number of first-team regulars against Monaco.

Julian Weigl and Shinji Kagawa are expected to be available, along with right-back Lukasz Piszczek, while creative midfielder Marco Reus may also be fit.

Dortmund defender Raphael Guerreiro has warned not to expect too much from the returning players and believes the club’s supporters could play a big role in securing a positive first-leg result.

“In our stadium we have a really incredible atmosphere,” he said.

“The fans will put a lot of pressure (on the visitors) and that will really help us. It is true that we have had some problems away from home, but we have had very good results at home. But we are still very stable.

“Some players have returned from injury and it will take a while for them to get back to their usual level.”

Monaco midfielder Fabinho is keen to emulate the side which reached the final of the competition in 2004, but says elimination would “not be a disaster”.

Leonardo Jardim’s side are currently three points above champions Paris St Germain in Ligue 1 and Fabinho believes winning the domestic championship is more important than progressing in the Champions League.

Monaco have not been further than the quarter-finals of Europe’s premier competition since they lost 3-0 in the final to Jose Mourinho’s Porto 13 years ago.

“In 2004, it was an unprecedented event for Monaco,” Fabinho told the club’s website. “It’s a different time, but nothing is impossible in football. We’re not the best team or the favourites, but we’re going to give it our all.

“The priority is the championship, but we want to continue our way. If we are eliminated it won’t be a disaster.”

Monaco’s chances have not been helped by the loss of defender Djibril Sidibe, who is in hospital being treated for appendicitis, while midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko, who scored the deciding goal in the last round against Manchester City, is suspended.

Fabinho insists they will continue to play the attacking football which has seen them net 88 times in 31 league games. The Brazilian, who has scored eight of those goals, plus one in the European victory over City, added: “They have an excellent team, with a bit more European experience than us, but we’re going to try to stand up to them.

“The style we play is not going to change, it has got us this far, so we’ll try to play the same against Dortmund.”

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