‘Have to take BVB seriously all the way'

Heiko Herrlich had his most successful period as a player at Borussia Dortmund. Before retiring in 2004, the current Werkself head coach wore the number 11 yellow and black shirt for nine years Herrlich scored a total of 57 goals in 184 appearances for Borussia. He twice won the German league title with BVB (1996 and 2002) and in 1997 he won the Champions League and the Intercontinental Cup.

Before the start of the current season Herrlich predicted BVB would win the league. “I think I was the only Bundesliga coach not to tip Bayern Munich as the next German champions,” he said at Friday’s pre-match press conference before adding: “I still think the Dortmund squad is full of quality.”

 There is still a huge amount of respect – in spite of BVB’s recent dip in form (two points from the last six league games). “If you follow the recent reports in the media then you almost feel Dortmund are so bad that we’ve already won the game,” said Herrlich and countered: “That’s obviously not the case! My main concern is keeping those opinions away from my players and make them aware BVB did not concede a goal in their first five games and were at the top of the table for quite a long time.” He also pointed out Dortmund managed to score four goals in 25 minutes against FC Schalke at the weekend. “That’s quite an achievement,” said the Bayer 04 coach. “We need to focus on our defensive game and take BVB seriously all the way.” That’s the only way we’ll be able to perform to the best of our ability.” 


To achieve the best possible result and extend the run of nine games unbeaten, Herrlich is once again looking for solid and organised defence in front of a sell-out crowd at the BayArena: “The crucial point is that we don’t give anything away and keep a clean sheet for as long as possible. That will be decisive.” As a positive example, he brought up the move leading to his team’s winner in the 1-0 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt when Julian Brandt sprinted back to clear in his own box and thereby set up the counter-attack that led to the winning. “It demands great character to take heart from little things. One of those is always working with the people next to you. If you work hard in every position then you can be very successful,” said Herrlich.

In spite of the recent move up the table, he is taking nothing for granted: “You always have to do your best. I set out to win every game. Between the second and third international breaks we started to get back on track in terms of results. But I still see room for improvement.”


 Tomorrow’s fixture is also special for Sven Bender. Before signing for the Werkself in the summer, the defender spent eight seasons at BVB. Following the double rib fracture he suffered in the 1-1 draw away to Augsburg at the start of November, the 28-year-old is set to return just in time for the tough task against his former club. “Sven has trained all week without any problems. I think there’s nothing standing in the way of him playing,” said Herrlich. The Bayer 04 coach can also call on Leon Bailey who missed the Frankfurt game late on due to an infection. The same applies to Wendell and Benjamin Henrichs who both return from suspension. Herrlich will only have to manage without the services of the suspended Dominik Kohr and theinjured Vladlen Yurchenko in the clash with Champions League participants.


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