Marcel Schmelzer says Borussia Dortmund are hungry to exact revenge over rivals Bayer Leverkusen when they meet at Signal Iduna Park this weekend.
Leverkusen have won on their last two visits to Dortmund without conceding a goal, and are unbeaten against the league leaders in the previous four meetings between the sides.
The visit of Leverkusen brings a new challenge to Thomas Tuchel’s flawless start as Dortmund boss, even though form has begun to stutter under Roger Schmidt – who has overseen consecutive league defeats.
Dortmund, on the other hand, have enjoyed a sensational start under Tuchel with 10 successive wins in all competitions, and they sit top of the early table on goal difference ahead of defending champions Bayern Munich.
“We have unfinished business, not just against Leverkusen but in general [after last season],” Schmelzer told the Bundesliga website. “We’re very motivated, not only because they beat us last season.
“We’re on the right track at the moment, though: we’re focussed, working hard and desperately want to succeed.
“We know it’s difficult to maintain the high level we’re playing at, however, and so we want to make sure we keep a comfortable cushion over our rivals and remain in the Champions League places for as long as possible.”
After securing fourth place in the Bundesliga last season, Leverkusen – who finished 15 points ahead of Dortmund – have endured a mixed start with two wins quickly followed by two successive league defeats.
One of those losses came against the unstoppable Bayern, however the reverse against Darmstadt last weekend was a shock for Schmidt’s side.
Their inconsistent form was given a boost on Wednesday with a 4-1 win over BATE in the Champions League, and Schmidt – who is sweating of the fitness of captain Lars Bender – hopes to see a similar performance on their return to league action.
“If we can use our chances in build-play like we did in the Champions League on Wednesday then we can hurt any opponent,” he said.
“We gained a lot of belief in our game against BATE.
“Dortmund are a very strong side capable of bringing a lot of depth into their game with a high tempo. They are currently trying to retain possession to create even clearer goalscoring opportunities but this side have been known for their pressing and ability to switch play for years.
“We’ve got to be ready for that.”