Thomas Tuchel wants Borussia Dortmund to qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League when they host Qabala on Thursday before turning their focus to the derby against Schalke.
The Bundesliga outfit have been in fine form in Europe so far this campaign and top Group C with seven points from three games played, holding a three-point lead over second-placed Krasnodar.
BVB recorded a 3-1 win over Qabala in Baku last month and another victory at the Signal Iduna Park could see them book their spot in the next round if Krasnodar beat PAOK.
“It is not starting to itch just yet, but we are obviously looking forward to the derby against Schalke,” Tuchel told reporters earlier this week.
“We have a Europa League game against Qabala coming up first, though.
“We want to qualify for the next round on Thursday. We are only thinking about the game against Qabala for now.”
Dortmund will have to make do without the services of defender Erik Durm due to a knee injury, while Nuri Sahin is expected to miss out due to a persistent knee problem.
The absence of the aforementioned duo is unlikely to affect BVB’s confidence heading into the encounter on Thursday – they are unbeaten in seven European games under Tuchel, winning six and drawing one.
It would be a first for Dortmund if they manage to reach the knockout stages of the Europa League, having crashed out in the group phase during their previous participation in 2010-11.
Qabala, meanwhile, have little reason for optimism ahead of this week’s trip to Dortmund.
The Azerbaijani side sit fourth in Group C with just one point from three encounters in what is only their second-ever European campaign.
Roman Hryhorchuk’s men are without a victory in five European contests since eliminating Apollon Limassol in the third qualifying round, drawing three and losing two. Additionally, they have yet to win in five UEFA away fixtures this term.
A Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hat-trick decided the reverse fixture in Baku and Qabala would be wise to keep a close eye on the Gabon international on Thursday. The forward has had eight shots on target in the first three matchdays – more than any other player in this season’s group stage.
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