Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel is confident captain Mats Hummels is back to his best ahead of Wednesday’s DFB-Pokal tie with Augsburg.
Germany centre-back Hummels has received his fair share of criticism this campaign following a number of unconvincing performances, but capped a strong display with a goal in Sunday’s 4-1 Bundesliga victory over Eintracht Frankfurt.
And Tuchel wants more of the same from his skipper at the WWK Arena this week.
“Mats was very strong and present all over the pitch. That’s the Mats Hummels we have all come to know and need,” the BVB coach told Ruhr Nachrichten.
“I know that the criticism hurt him. He lost his confidence for a bit. He was thinking too much during games. He wasn’t entirely free in his head and was missing a few per cent.
“That’s why we are all so happy that he is back to his best. We never made much of an issue out of it.
“He rewarded himself with a goal against Frankfurt and must now build on it.”
Tuchel looks likely to have to make do without the services of Marco Reus on Wednesday, though, after he picked up a muscular problem against Frankfurt.
Nuri Sahin and Erik Durm are also still recovering from knee injuries and seem set to miss out, too.
In-form Augsburg, meanwhile, will be high on confidence on the back of a three-game winning run in all competitions, which continued with a 2-1 victory over Dortmund’s arch-rivals Schalke on Sunday.
Dortmund ran out 5-1 winners when the sides met in the Bundesliga at Signal Iduna Park in October – a game that saw the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang net a hat-trick.
Augsburg did beat Dortmund back in February, though, when Raul Bobadilla’s goal was enough to earn them a 1-0 victory.
Paraguayan striker Bobadilla has been in good form this season, too, with his six goals in five Europa League group games a major factor behind Augsburg qualifying from their pool.