Stuttgart’s Kevin Grosskreutz is “fired up” as he prepares to face former club Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Germany international Grosskreutz won two Bundesliga titles and the Pokal during a six-year stay at Dortmund, and was also a runner-up to Bayern Munich in the 2012-13 Champions League final.
The 27-year-old left Dortmund for Galatasaray in September, but the Turkish champions failed to submit his registration in time for the versatile wide man to play during the first half of 2015-16.
After failing to settle in Turkey, he joined Stuttgart on loan last month, having not made a competitive appearance for Gala.
Grosskreutz now comes up against Dortmund for the first time since his exit as Stuttgart target a place in the last four of the Pokal.
“For me it is of course a special feeling to play against Dortmund,” he told Stuttgart’s official website.
“I’m fired up for the game.”
Stuttgart were hammered 4-1 by Dortmund when the sides met at Signal Iduna Park in the Bundesliga on November 29, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring twice.
However, since then Jurgen Kramny’s team have been in superb form and they are unbeaten in their past seven matches across all competitions – including winning the past three.
Their latest victory came in a 4-2 triumph at Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, but Daniel Didavi – a scorer in that game – is wary of letting standards drop.
“It was clear to see that we are going about our games with far more self-belief,” he said.
“In spite of our successes of late, we would be well warned not to relax on the results.
“We must continue to work extremely hard.”
Dortmund can take a step towards a return to the Pokal final, having finished runners-up to Wolfsburg in last season’s competition.
There is plenty of reason for Dortmund to be optimistic ahead of their trip to the Mercedes-Benz Arena.
Dortmund are unbeaten in their past 11 meetings against Stuttgart, with their last defeat coming in a 4-1 reverse in January 2010.
Thomas Tuchel’s side are riding high in second in the Bundesliga, but played out a frustrating 0-0 draw at third-placed Hertha Berlin on Saturday.
The contest with Stuttgart represents the second of six matches within a 20-day period for Dortmund between February 6 and 25, as they challenge on three fronts in the league, cup and Europa League.