Liverpool are under more pressure than Borussia Dortmund in their Europa League quarter-final tie because the German side have already qualified for next season’s Champions League, says Hans-Joachim Watzke.
Dortmund have guaranteed themselves at least a second-placed finish in the Bundesliga this season, ensuring automatic qualification to next season’s Champions League, while Liverpool are nine points adrift of the fourth position they need in order to qualify.
Winning the Europa League offers them another route into Europe’s premier club competition, and the Dortmund chief executive believes that puts great pressure on the English team ahead of the second leg at Anfield on Thursday.
“When I hear that we’re now under greater pressure than Liverpool I laugh, because I know one thing for sure: Borussia Dortmund will be playing in the Champions League next season anyway, Liverpool need to win this year’s Europa League to get there,” said Watzke.
“Home advantage in European competition has been a false notion for some time, as at home you have to place an even greater focus on not conceding.”
The first leg finished 1-1 and saw Jurgen Klopp return to the Signal Iduna Park for the first time since leaving the club at the end of last season.
Watzke is relieved the initial meeting was out of the way and insists Dortmund are solely thinking about reaching the semi-finals.
“The whole reunion is now out of the way, so our performance there will be focused. The team is 120 per cent ready. Our concentration is on this match,” she added.
Nuri Sahin spent just under five months on loan at Liverpool in the 2012-13 season, and he is hopeful of eliminating his former club upon his Anfield return and going all the way to the final.
“I am very optimistic, we are all very focused,” said Sahin. “I am confident we will progress, because there is a tremendous chance to win this competition.
“Liverpool take this competition very seriously and when you consider the quality this team has, it is clear it won’t be easy.”
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