Borussia Dortmund midfielder Ilkay Gundogan believes coach Thomas Tuchel has the squad strength to cope with their current injury woes ahead of Wednesday’s visit to Darmstadt.
Tuchel saw his side struggle to break down 10-man Hoffenheim in their 3-1 win at Signal Iduna Park on Sunday, with Dortmund missing centre-backs Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mats Hummels, while Gundogan was only fit for the second half after illness.
The likes of Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Lukasz Piszczek all shook off injury or illness to feature as an initially lacklustre Dortmund eventually prevailed with three late goals after Sebastian Rudy had seen red for Hoffenheim.
It keeps Dortmund within eight points of leaders Bayern Munich amid a hectic fixture schedule that sees Tuchel’s men face the champions on Saturday before the Europa League last-16 first leg with Tottenham the following Thursday.
Despite fitness concerns for the squad to deal with, Gundogan says Tuchel can afford to reshuffle his pack again this week.
“I noticed on Thursday in [the Europa League win at] Porto that the infection I had suffered from wasn’t quite out of my system yet,” he told the club’s official website.
“I was okay, but only for between 45 and 60 minutes. But in the second half [on Sunday] I wanted to and was able to give it everything I had. We turned the game around, so I’m very happy.
“We have real quality on the bench that we are able to bring on. I think the coach can be very, very satisfied with the current personnel situation at the club. We can really rely on whoever is brought off the bench.
“It was a great feeling to be able to turn around such a game that really required a strong mentality from us.”
Darmstadt were denied a priceless victory over fellow strugglers Werder Bremen at the weekend as Claudio Pizarro earned the hosts a 2-2 draw with a minute remaining at the Weserstadion.
Dortmund have not won a midweek fixture in the Bundesliga in their last seven attempts – a run stretching back to April 2012 – although Dirk Schuster’s Darmstadt have not won at home since October.
The former Germany defender was happy to see his side take a precious point against Bremen, saying on Saturday: “I’m glad that we have been able to take this point and can live very well with it.
“Thanks to this result, we have managed to keep Werder at bay. That was very important because our focus now turns to Wednesday against Borussia Dortmund.”
Key Opta Stats:
– After 23 matchdays Borussia Dortmund have eight more points and 10 more goals than in the whole of the 2014-15 campaign.
– Henrikh Mkhitaryan is the Bundesliga’s joint leader in assists with 10 (along with Rafael). He has also assisted the most goals in all competitions in Europe’s top five leagues (19).
– Dortmund inflicted more Bundesliga defeats on Dirk Schuster during his playing career than any other side with six.
– Peter Niemeyer (W4, D1, L3) and Slobodan Rajkovic (W2) are the only Darmstadt players to boast positive head-to-head records against Dortmund.
– Darmstadt defender Aytac Sulu scored his sixth goal of the season against Werder Bremen, but none of those have come at home.
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