Out of Europe, Dortmund must resist Bayern’s title challenge
Chasing a near-miracle at home to Tottenham on Tuesday, the Germans fell short in their bid to overturn a 3-0 last 16 first leg loss as Harry Kane’s winner sealed their 1-0 defeat.
Despite passionate support at Signal Iduna Park, who greeted each Spurs attack with deafening whistles, Kane’s 24th European goal “pulled the plug” on the Germans’ faint hopes, admitted Marco Reus.
It was Dortmund’s fourth loss in seven games, a bleak four-week spell which has dumped them out of Europe, the German Cup and left Bayern snapping at their heels in the league.
Despite battering the Spurs defence, enjoying 70 percent possession in the first-half, Dortmund failed to convert their 19 chances while Spurs scored off one of just five.
“We needed at least one goal before half-time, which we didn’t manage although we had an unbelievable amount of chances,” said Dortmund captain Marco Reus.
Despite a vastly improved display compared to Friday’s woeful 2-1 league defeat at Augsburg, Dortmund failed to get past Spurs’ rock-solid goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, who kept his 100th clean sheet.
However, the Dortmund camp saw enough to give them hope for the Bundesliga title run-in with 10 games left and Bayern still to come at Munich’s Allianz Arena on April 6.
“If you look at both games (against Spurs), we lost a bit of it in London,” said team manager Sebastian Kehl.
“But we’ve seen a lot of positives – that should give us momentum and strength.”
Favre dropped defenders Dan-Axel Zagadou and Achraf Hakimi, both guilty of bad mistakes at Augsburg, starting Reus, Mario Goetze and Paco Alcacer, a trio who have 30 goals between them.
The result was a vastly improved display.
“We have shown we have the quality and our first-half performance (against Spurs) is something we can build on after Augsburg, that was a game to forget,” said Reus.
“We have to deliver in the coming weeks and that starts on Saturday.”
A Stuttgart side battling relegation are Dortmund’s next opponents at home on Saturday and the hosts could do with a repeat of the 4-0 romp from when the teams met last October.
The title race is red-hot at the moment thanks to Dortmund’s dip in form while Bayern enjoyed 11 wins from 12 league games.
A goal difference of two is all that is keeping Bayern off the top of the table.
The last of the nine-point lead Dortmund held in December was finally eroded last weekend as Bayern, who want a seventh straight league title, drew level on 54 points.
“High intensity, enthusiasm, passion, great opportunities,” is what Kehl feels Dortmund must take from the Spurs defeat into the league title race.
“We can build on that, that’s the benchmark now.”
Most worryingly, Dortmund’s goals have dried up – just four scored in their last four games – which has affected confidence.
England winger Jadon Sancho, 18, continues to be a threat on the right wing, but Dortmund are now struggling to finish the chances they created with such ease before Christmas.
“We just have to somehow manage to score goals again,” said Reus.