Borussia Dortmund midfielder Axel Witsel is not fazed by the fact that Bayern Munich have returned to the top of the Bundesliga table for the first time since September, with nine games left to play in the season.
“We have to take it game by game,” Witsel told bundesliga.com after Dortmund’s win over VfB Stuttgart on Saturday. “We have to stay tight with Bayern until we go to Munich - after that we'll see who's top.”
The change of table-topper came after a four-goal swing in goal difference between Dortmund and Bayern on Saturday. Both sides were playing at home on Matchday 25 but while Dortmund could only beat relegation-threatened Stuttgart 3-1, Bayern dismantled UEFA Champions League-chasing Wolfsburg 6-0 to take a two-goal lead at the top of the table, with both sides tied on 57 points.
The Belgium international, however, doesn’t mind Dortmund being behind their title rivals when it is only by way of goal difference, for now.
"For me, it doesn't matter,” Witsel stated. “I think they've scored more goals than us but we have the same points and we need to stay tight before we go to Munich. We have two or three games before that. We'll take it game by game and then we'll see.
"We're still in the race with nine more games to go. Not everything went our way over the last few weeks, we were missing a bit of luck, we had a lot of opportunities we didn't score. Today we scored three goals so I think this is really positive for the future."
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Two of Dortmund’s three goals came in the last 10 minutes of a tense and nervy affair at the Signal Iduna Park, in what eventually became a positive sign that Lucien Favre’s side – following a goalless draw at Nuremberg and scoring once in a defeat at Augsburg - are still capable of grinding out a result when it matters most.
"It wasn't easy, especially when we started the game. It was crazy weather today, a lot of wind, rain but in the end, we played a good game,” Witsel explained. “We showed good fighting spirit and I think it's what we needed.
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"We didn't give up. We kept pushing ourselves to come back in the game but you know it's always like this when you have a lot of possession, you always have to look out for the counter, on a free-kick, on a corner. The five minutes after you concede are the most important five minutes. It's then that you have to be more focused in my opinion. But then we pushed ourselves, scored two more goals, and the victory today was very important."
Axel Witsel was speaking to Dietmar Nolte in Dortmund.
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