Tuesday, March 28, 2017

PAOK v Borussia Dortmund: Hummels out to avoid Klassiker distraction

SoccerNews in UEFA Europa League 29 Sep 2015

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Mats Hummels says Borussia Dortmund are fully focused on Thursday’s Europa League clash with PAOK rather than the trip to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich at the weekend.

Following a positive start to Thomas Tuchel’s maiden campaign at Signal Iduna Park, back-to-back league draws have seen Dortmund fall four points off rivals and leaders Bayern – who boast a 100 per cent record.

However, attentions turn away from domestic competition for Tuchel’s men in midweek as they face a difficult trip to Greece to take on PAOK for the first time in UEFA competition.

Igor Tudor’s side have won all three European home games this term – scoring 12 times without conceding – and Dortmund will likely need to cope without the injured trio of Nuri Sahin, Erik Durm and Neven Subotic (all knee).

Seeking to build on their 2-1 win over Krasnodar last time out, Hummels urged Dortmund not to let their minds wander to Der Klassiker.

The centre-back told the Bundesliga’s official website: “Without doubt they’re two tough matches, but we’ve played some terrific matches in Munich in recent years.

“Sometimes we’ve won, other times we’ve lost. I don’t think there’s an obvious trend. It’ll definitely be a good game, but first we want to take the next step towards the next round of the Europa League.

“That’s the first objective. Then we’ll be focusing on the Bundesliga again on Friday.”

Tudor’s men have also enjoyed a promising start to their domestic campaign and sit fourth in the Super League with 10 points from five matches.

A goalless draw with Gabala in the Europa League forms part of a four-match unbeaten run in all competitions as PAOK come into Thursday’s game off the back of a 2-1 win over Atromitos.

Dimitar Berbatov and Robert Mak sealed a comeback victory, with Tudor set to hand the Bulgarian striker a start against Dortmund.

“We need to put the Atromitos game behind us, relax and prepare for these two very important games,” the former Croatia international told reporters.

“There is fatigue but, when in competition, good results provide a psychological rest. There is time between games, we have young players and I am confident they will pull through.

“I never reveal my starting 11, but I will make an exception this time round. [Berbatov] will start on Thursday.”

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