Outgoing Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp insisted that fatigue from their midweek DFB-Pokal exertions contributed to his side’s performance in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Hoffenheim.
Klopp’s men required extra-time and penalties to dispose of Bayern Munich in Tuesday’s dramatic semi-final and made a sluggish start against Hoffenheim at the Rhein-Neckar-Arena, falling behind to a 33rd-minute goal from Kevin Volland.
Dortmund equalised within two minutes, however, when Mats Hummels nodded home a Henrikh Mkhitaryan corner and the point they earned keeps them very much in the hunt for a UEFA Europa League place.
“For us the game was incredibly intense, of course, due to the 120 minutes we had to play on Tuesday,” said Klopp.
“We did okay, to be honest. Hoffenheim played a lot of long balls, which tested us. We had to run a lot which added to the fatigue factor.
“We conceded the goal because we were not 100 per cent awake, though it was good play from Volland. Then we scored the equaliser.
“The game really could have tipped either way; it’s one of those games that never ends up a draw, but it has done. I can accept that, it’s not a big problem.”
The result means that both Dortmund and Hoffenheim are still vying with Schalke, Werder Bremen and Augsburg for the Bundesliga’s two Europa League places and Klopp is expecting the five-way battle to go right down to the wire.
“Ideally, in the final three games we’d like to leapfrog Hoffenheim,” he said.
“However, as we saw [on Saturday], that’s not as simple as just saying it out loud.”