Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel believes playing local rivals Schalke in the Ruhr derby between Europa League quarter-final matches against Liverpool could work to his side’s advantage.
Dortmund were held to a 1-1 draw as Jurgen Klopp returned to Signal Iduna Park with the Premier League side on Thursday, leaving them with plenty to do in next week’s return leg at Anfield.
Fitting a short trip to Gelsenkirchen in between may not appear to be ideal preparation but Tuchel believes this schedule will help his players to cope with the usual pressures of derby day.
“The atmosphere in the derby is something else,” he told a news conference ahead of a match where Dortmund will seek to double up on a thrilling 3-2 win last November.
“It feels like a cup match, because you have to wait a long time to make up for it.
“Maybe it’s a good thing the derby is sandwiched between Liverpool. It might help us to approach the game with calmness.
“For Schalke it’s a chance to make it up to their fans. There is much at stake for our opponents. Schalke are an exceptionally well-organised team with a lot of untapped potential.
“We have a lot of room for improvement from Thursday, but we have learned our lessons from it.”
Ilkay Gundogan “has trained and is ready” following his foot injury, according to Tuchel, who is keen for the long-term futures of the midfielder and fellow Germany international Mats Hummels to be clarified.
Gundogan has been persistently linked with a move to Manchester City, with his captain and centre-back Hummels also the subject of regular speculation.
“It would make me infinitely happy if we had certainty that they would stay,” Tuchel said.
“But each day and week in which we have certainty that they won’t extend [their contracts] would also help.
“We have learned to deal with these situations. It is not a state in which I am annoyed.”
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