Borussia Dortmund face an uphill task to overturn a 3-2 deficit against French rivals Monaco and keep their minds on football after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final was marred by an attack on the German team’s bus.
Three explosions rocked the Borussia coach on its way to the stadium last Tuesday and left the team’s Spanish defender Marc Bartra with a fractured arm.
With the fixture rescheduled for the day after, a shaken Borussia looked all at sea against Monaco and their coach Thomas Tuchel acknowledged his side had been ill-prepared to play so soon after the attack.
However, Borussia bounced back with a 3-1 Bundesliga win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday ahead of Wednesday’s visit to treble-chasing Monaco, who are top of the French league and through to the Cup semi-finals.
“My players have shown an incredible character, already on Wednesday (against Monaco) and again (on Saturday),” Tuchel said after the Eintracht win.
“I think it’s easier for the players to take their mind off things when they are on the pitch.
“We had a wonderful interaction with our fans whose instinct for such situations is probably second to none.”
A packed Westfalenstadion, albeit under a visibly heightened police presence, gave the players a rousing reception before the kick-off and Borussia produced a promising performance ahead of the return leg against high-scoring Monaco.
Having eliminated Manchester City in the previous round on away goals after a 3-1 home win cancelled out a 5-3 first-leg defeat, Monaco will be confident of finishing the job against Borussia on their own turf.
The French side are also in the driving seat in Ligue 1, three points ahead of champions Paris St Germain with six games left, having scored 90 goals in 32 games.
They also meet PSG in a mouth-watering Cup semi-final on April 26 but the first thing on their minds will surely be to try to emulate their 2004 Champions League achievement, when they reached the final and lost 3-0 to Porto.
Monaco’s Polish defender Kamil Glik stressed the back four would have to be wary of a similarly prolific Dortmund side likely to throw caution to the wind.
“For us defenders, evolving in a team that attacks so much demands a lot of work and attention,” Glik told the club’s website (www.asmonaco.com).
“The Champions League demands the utmost vigilance because you’re up against the best players. But we have to defend as a team as it’s a collective job.”