Dortmund - Fresh from a 5-0 rout of SC Freiburg, Borussia Dortmund face another onerous task in the shape of a home UEFA Champions League tie against Olympique de Marseille on Tuesday.
It's a game in which they will have to make do without head coach Jürgen Klopp on the sidelines after the 46-year-old was suspended for being sent off against SSC Napoli in his side's previous 2-1 defeat. A man who has known Klopp since his arrival at Borussia Dortmund in 2008 is Nuri Sahin, who spoke to the media after the Freiburg game and looked forward to the Marseille clash.
Question: Nuri Sahin, you have to face Marseille without coach Klopp. How are the team dealing with this?
Nuri Sahin: Well, we know what to expect and we can’t change the fact he won’t be there. However, our assistant coach Zeljko Buvac is basically Klopp’s twin, and he’ll be on the bench instead. Both of them see football in exactly the same way.
Question: Do you not think that the suspension could have negative effects?
Sahin: The coach will prepare us in exactly the same way on the training field, and usually during a game you’re so focused that you’ve hardly got any time to go to the sidelines and find the coach. Like I said, we know he won’t be there and we're prepared for that.
Question: What can you tell us about Zeljko Buvac? No one really knows him, he’s hardly ever given an interview.
Sahin: (laughing) He won’t start giving interviews. I can’t imagine he’s going to change his personality either before or after the Marseille game. Zeljko isn’t really one for speaking much in public.
Question: How would you describe Buvac?
Sahin: In the dressing room, his word is law. That’s just it. He doesn’t speak very much, so when he says something it carries a lot of weight. He has some great ideas when we’re in training, and for us as players he’s worth his weight in gold. The coaching team complements each other so well, and for Zeljko we have nothing but respect.
Question: Klopp took responsibility for the defeat against Napoli, partly because of his sending-off. Are you playing against Marseille a little bit for him?
Sahin: We didn’t lose in Naples because the coach wasn’t on the touchline in the second half. Obviously the dismissal wasn’t ideal but the coach knows that better than any of us. However, he lives his emotions and that injects us with such morale usually. It makes us a better side. The loss in Naples wasn’t his fault, and by the same token, we’re going to win for Borussia Dortmund. If we’re good to watch at the same time - even better!
Question: What was the team’s view of the Napoli defeat? Dortmund are unbeaten in the Bundesliga, but was the loss a bit of a shock to the system?
Sahin: You always have to look at how you lost the game, and certainly we weren’t at our best in Naples. It certainly wasn’t as bad as it was made out to be, however. People forget that we had our backs to the wall for the majority, and that Napoli are a good side. We were also away from home. Up until their first goal it was an open game and by the end we almost nicked a draw with ten men. We shouldn’t forget those things, even though it wasn’t the perfect start.
Question: And what is the team’s view ahead of the Marseille clash?
Sahin: We’re approaching it with confidence, because we know we can achieve our goals, regardless of how good our opposition are. We all know that we need to take an important step forward against Marseille and that we absolutely have to win our home games.
Dietmar Nolte / Daniel Thacker