Having emerged from a UEFA Champions League group containing Barcelona and Inter Milan, Borussia Dortmund must now approach their final Bundesliga games of 2019 with real confidence, according to goalkeeper Roman Bürki.
Jadon Sancho may have grabbed the headlines as his goal and assist against Slavia Prague helped to secure Dortmund a place in the last 16, but Bürki also played a crucial role in BVB's success on Tuesday night.
The Swiss stopper made a series of brilliant saves as Dortmund – who had Julian Weigl sent off on 77 minutes – held on for a 2-1 win, with visitors Prague only able to convert one of their 18 shots into a goal. After another night of European drama at the Signal Iduna Park, Bürki caught up with bundesliga.com…
bundesliga.com: Roman Bürki, the Yellow Wall was cheering you and chanting your name after that outstanding performance, where you made some vital saves. How did that feel?
Roman Bürki: It meant a lot to me. Everything came together at that moment. We had a very difficult game, but we still managed to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champions League. I was able to make a big contribution, and then the reaction from the fans… I had to pull myself together so that I wasn't overcome with emotion, to stop the tears flowing! The whole team then came over and congratulated me as well, it was a really nice feeling.
bundesliga.com: When and how did you learn about Barcelona doing you a favour against Inter Milan, which ultimately allowed Dortmund to progress?
Bürki: The scoreline flashed up briefly before the end of our game, showing that Barca had a 2-1 lead, so a massive roar went up in the crowd. At that point you risk a quick look, even if you're playing! After the final whistle, we were hugely relieved to have held up our end of the bargain. It seemed like an interminable wait for the end of the Inter and Barcelona game, but it made what we had done even more worthwhile.
bundesliga.com: The team probably want to buy you a beer after you helped them hold on for the win. But Mats Hummels has guessed that you'd rather have a nice bowl of bircher muesli?
Bürki: (laughs) I don't drink alcohol, especially in the weeks where we have a lot of games. I'm going home straight away now, because I want to get to bed as quickly as possible. Everything hurts and I'd like to sleep in the morning. (laughs) But the coach has already scheduled training for the morning!
bundesliga.com: You're bound to enjoy looking back at this game and thinking about the saves you made?
Bürki: Yes, I'll always remember it, because this game meant a lot to us. We won, Barcelona won, and we stayed in the Champions League. That's why I'm massively proud. In the past few weeks I haven't had many opportunities to distinguish myself and to help out the team like that. I'm very relieved and very happy that the game against Prague was so successful.
bundesliga.com: How were Prague able to create so many chances, which meant that you needed to put in such an impressive performance?
Bürki: Prague came here with a lot of firepower, and they have some strong players. They were often dangerous with high balls over the top, which caused us a few headaches. There was also one headed effort that flashed just wide of the goal, and I honestly thought it was in.
bundesliga.com: Will this victory over Prague and reaching the knockout stage give BVB a real boost for the last three Bundesliga games of the calendar year [against Mainz, RB Leipzig and Hoffenheim]?
Bürki: The main thing is not to shrink away from our achievements. We've survived a top group in the Champions League and made it through to the last 16. We have to play with confidence. We've shown a lot of character, and we've now won two of our last three games after having a man sent off. I think we should also have faith in the tactical system we've been using lately. It's good, and not every team will be able to put us under the same pressure as Prague.
Dietmar Nolte was speaking to Roman Bürki in Dortmund