Borussia Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel has played down any sense of crisis ahead of the Champions League last-16 first leg at Benfica.
Dortmund are fourth in the Bundesliga and were beaten 2-1 by bottom club Darmstadt on Saturday. “It is often the quietest in the middle of the storm,” said Tuchel in Lisbon last night.
Dortmund have just two wins in eight games since the Champions League group stage concluded in December, but Tuchel is optimistic.
“We are full of anticipation and hopeful we can perform to our best,” he added.
“We have to keep our shape and be confident, knowing there will always be phases of the game where we dominate.
“It is a big task playing a knockout game against a great and proud club like Benfica.
“They are very fluent going forwards but keep it compact at the back.
“There are no favourites in a Champions League knockout (game).”
Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek travelled to Portugal after missing the Darmstadt loss through injury.
Ousmane Dembele and Marco Reus also made the trip following recent knocks.
Mario Gotze was a notable absentee though with a muscular injury.
“This trip to Lisbon has just come too soon for him,” sporting director Michael Zorc said on bvb.de.
Skipper Schmelzer said the surprise domestic defeat was in the past. “We came up with an explanation (for the defeat) and agreed we can’t lose those type of matches,” he said.
“We are in the last 16 so that makes this game the most difficult.
“To talk about favourites in these eliminators doesn’t make sense. We must prepare well in order to take a good result back home with us.”
Benfica have won seven of nine games since the Champions League group stage and beat Arouca last Friday.
Raul Jimenez told the club’s website: “It is going to be (as) difficult as any Champions League match. We have to be at our best.” Ederson is available after being sent off against Arouca but Andrija Zivkovic is suspended.
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