Dortmund to sustain 'feel-good' factor against Inter
Borussia Dortmund and their under-fire coach Lucien Favre hope to maintain the 'feel-good' factor from back-to-back wins as they chase Champions League revenge at home to Inter Milan on Tuesday.
A below-par performance saw Dortmund crash to a 2-0 defeat in Milan nearly a fortnight ago, sparking reports Jose Mourinho was waiting in the wings to replace Favre unless results improved, which the club subsequently denied.
The German media piled into Favre after forward Lautaro Martinez give Inter a first-half lead, then had a late penalty saved, before winger Antonio Candreva raced clear to seal Dortmund's defeat at the San Siro.
Favre's team were short of ideas against a water-tight defence and only Roman Burki's fine save from Martinez's penalty prevented a rout in Milan.
Dortmund have since improved but are under pressure to beat Inter at home in order to stay on course for the knock-out phase.
A goalless draw at Schalke last weekend was backed-up by dumping Bundesliga leaders Borussia Moenchengladbach out of the German Cup in midweek before trouncing Wolfsburg 3-0 on Saturday in the league.
"We have already beaten quite a few other teams here," said winger Julian Brandt in Monday's press conference, hoping Signal Iduna Park will be a factor against Inter.
With one eye on the Italians, Favre said it was "nice to see" his side has broken their habit of conceding late goals amid nervous defending.
- Joy element -
However, "we need a win," insisted sports director Michael Zorc, who hoped beating Wolfsburg "will give us the necessary self-confidence", especially with a crunch Bundesliga tie at Bayern Munich looming on Saturday.
Both Inter and Dortmund come into Tuesday's tie on four points from three games, each with a win, a defeat and draw.
Dortmund must repeat the rock-solid defending in their goalless draw at home to Barcelona in September to contain Inter's attack and Saturday's win over Wolfsburg suggests confidence is high.
For once, there were no whistles of displeasure from home fans, no awkward post-match questions and no frustrated out-bursts from players, as in previous weeks due to Dortmund's habit of leaking late goals.
"The fun is back again", stated midfielder Julian Weigl.
Saturday's win was also a confidence booster for goal-scorers Thorgan Hazard, who bagged his first goal since joining from Gladbach, and Mario Goetze, who converted a late penalty after starting most games this season on the bench.
However, the news is not all good for Favre.
Chief playmaker and Germany star Marco Reus, who also missed the away defeat in Milan, is doubtful with a knock to the foot.
"We will have to see after training," said Favre on Monday.
Both clubs meet at Signal Iduna Park second in their respective leagues after Inter's burly Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku scored twice in Saturday's 2-1 win at Bologna to leave his side a point behind Juventus in Serie A.
Despite two wins inside a week, Dortmund must take three points to calm fears of a group stage exit.
"Now Favre has to win," demanded Germany's top-selling daily Bild, especially with group leaders Barcelona at home to bottom side Slavia Prague on Tuesday.
© 2019 AFP