'Now it's about achieving our targets'

The Werkself have just gone through a turbulent phase. After runaway wins against RB Leipzig (4-1) and Eintracht Frankfurt (4-1), black and red dreams of DFB Cup success came to an abrupt end on Tuesday – against the former and new champions of Germany with a 6-2 defeat in the semi-final at the BayArena. "We took a real beating today. Now we have to regroup and fight back.

Speaking at the press conference ahead of tomorrow's game, held on Friday afternoon following the presentation of  Fernando Carro as the future Bayer 04 CEO, the Werkself coach again referred to the cup exit. "My team gave their all, pushed themselves to the limits and still resisted despite the big deficit. It wasn't enough on the day. Bayern Munich are currently in outstanding form so we don't need to reproach ourselves," said the 46-year-old coach. It's a question of drawing the right conclusions to be able to start next season in a position to compete with the serial champions. "But that's in the future. Now it's about achieving our short-term targets," said Herrlich looking at the desired qualification for the Champions League as he set out the agenda for the season run-in.

Herrlich calls for a top performance

Three points against his former club would represent another major step forwards. The Bayer 04 head coach believes that is a realistic ambition: "We played very well at home to Borussia Dortmund until Wendell was sent off but we had to settle for a draw in the end," said Herrlich in recalling the 1-1 draw in December. He believes his players not only "have to produce a top performance" but also refuse to be misled by Dortmund's mixed results of late. "If you follow reports in the media  then you might believe Borussia Dortmund are in danger of getting relegated. They are facing enormous criticism because levels of expectation have increased following the recent years of success," declared Herrlich.

Nevertheless, he warned against underestimating BVB. "They have a squad capable of winning the German league. And they've produced some top performances this season. The team definitely has more potential than they've shown recently,"  referring to the recent sensitive 2-0 defeat for Dortmund in the Revier derby away to Schalke. As a former Dortmund player, Herrlich knows what he's talking about: "After a game like that against Schalke, they are under incredible pressure and will now obviously try to perform to their best at home in front of their own fans. We have to be prepared for that and give absolutely everything."


In spite of this "tricky" situation for his team, Herrlich is looking for a similarly focused performance from the Werkself at Dortmund's Signal Iduna Park as shown against the rivals from Leipzig and Frankfurt: "Of course, Borussia Dortmund will be a little uncertain. So we'll have to play on the front foot from the start and prevent them from settling down – we just have to bring our strengths and quality into the game."

The Werkself coach will be able to welcome back striker Lucas Alario to league action on Saturday after his three-match ban. Herrlich is also confident keeper Bernd Leno should be fit after the knock he picked up in the DFB Cup game against Bayern Munich. In contrast, Lars Bender is ruled out with a one-match ban after picking up a fifth yellow card and Joel Pohjanpalo (rehab after ankle injury) and Wendell (torn ankle ligaments) are both sidelined.

Around 4,300 Werkself fans will be supporting the Black and Reds in Dortmund tomorrow night.


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