Gundogan doubtful as Dortmund welcome back Klopp
published : 7 Apr 2016 at 00:45
DORTMUND (GERMANY) - Borussia Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel says Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan is struggling to be fit for Thursday's Europa League quarter-final, first-leg clash at home to Liverpool.
Ilkay Gundogan of Borussia Dortmund attends a football press conference in Singapore on July 8, 2015
The defensive midfielder is struggling with a persistent foot injury ahead of the first leg, with the return at Anfield on April 14.
"We'll have to see how the foot reacts. It will be very close," said Tuchel.
Dortmund are preparing to welcome Liverpool manager and ex-Borussia coach Jurgen Klopp back to Signal Iduna Park and banners around the city have poked cheeky fun at the Reds manager.
"Dear Jurgen Klopp, on the pitch at home is the best place to deal with an away defeat," read the banners ahead of his return, after Klopp ended his seven-year stay as Dortmund coach last May.
His successor Tuchel says the Liverpool boss will get a warm welcome at Dortmund's sold-out stadium.
"Anything but a very, very warm welcome would be a big surprise. No one has forgotten what he has done here. But as soon as the whistle blows, we both want to win," Tuchel said.
This is not the first time Tuchel has had to deal with headlines heralding the return of Klopp, who won two league titles and one German Cup with Dortmund.
Tuchel followed on from Klopp as Mainz coach in 2009 before taking over from him at Dortmund for the start of this season.
"I don't want to take away the anticipation that prevails the return of Jurgen Klopp, but for me it is now the sixth time that I'll play against Jurgen as a returnee - five times in Mainz and now for the first time with Dortmund," said Tuchel.
"It is certainly something extraordinary for Jurgen and also for the fans. He marked an era here.
"But for me personally, it was not so hard to get that out of my head.
"My concentration was on the daily routine, the analysis of Liverpool and preparing our team.
"It's been clear since the draw that this is a special game, especially as there is a great tradition which goes beyond 'Jurgen Klopp against Thomas Tuchel'.
"The Liverpool team has improved week on week under Jurgen - which was to be expected.
"So are now about to take on the best Liverpool which we can remember and great is the challenge.
"Jurgen is a very, very competitive kind of coach – one of the most competitive guys I know.
"It's a special game for him as well."