Jurgen Klopp hopes his Borussia Dortmund team can capitalise on a cluster of injuries in the Bayern Munich ranks when the sides meet on Saturday.
Dortmund and Bayern have regularly duelled for Bundesliga supremacy over recent seasons but a nightmare first half of the season means Klopp’s men lie 10th, 31 points behind the leaders this time around.
A new-year resurgence has helped to lift them clear of the unthinkable threat of relegation and Dortmund are now five points behind Augsburg in the league’s final European place.
Influential wingers Franck Ribery (ankle) and Arjen Robben (thigh) will miss out at Signal Iduna Park, while David Alaba sustained knee ligament damage while on international duty with Austria and faces a seven-week lay-off.
“We are not on the same level as Bayern at the moment,” Klopp told reporters. “Nevertheless, we surely still have a chance to win, although the situation now is very different from recent years. There is a really big gap in points between us and them now.
“Even Bayern would miss players like Robben, Alaba and Ribery, but they still have a good attack with Thomas Muller, Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski. I’ve heard of worse. Also Philipp Lahm will be in form.
“Without Ribery and Robben, they are missing their fastest players, so they have to change. We need to consider how they might react to it. Then there will be opportunities for us.
“We have to defend very well if we want to be successful.”
Despite being away from the hunt for trophies, Klopp expects his players to end the season strongly.
“We have no motivation problems,” he added. “The team is in a relatively good shape. Our objectives are the same in the club.
“Each point we win back also gives us the chance to get back up the table.”
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