La Manga - The drizzling rain and low temperatures may not be quite what Borussia Dortmund expected when they travelled to the south of Spain for their winter training camp, but die Schwarz-Gelben nevertheless started 2014 on a high note as they registered a 2-0 friendly win over Royal Standard de Liege on Saturday.
Targeting second place
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Jonas Hofmann were both on target against the Belgian league leaders, while Sven Bender put in a strong display in midfield after missing Dortmund's last two Bundesliga outings through injury (ankle).
The win could not have come soon enough for BVB after two defeats in their last three pre-winter assignments saw Jürgen Klopp’s men slip to fourth in the standings. Yet for the fit-again Bender, the hard work has only just begun.
"We'll be giving our all to reclaim second place," said the 24-year-old, admitting the 2013 UEFA Champions League finalists may have lacked some of the will and belief that made them such a feared side both domestically and in Europe in previous years. "We'll have to focus again on what had made us a strong team," the seven-time Germany international continued. "We'll need to be keen, and have the desire to go for the goal."
Cause for optimism
The impending return of a number of key players for the club's next Bundesliga fixture at home to FC Augsburg will add to that optimism, as head coach Klopp prepares to welcome midfield duo Ilkay Gündogan (bronchitis) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Achilles) back into the fold after both missed training on Sunday.
What's more, with last year's Bundesliga runners-up only five points behind second-placed Bayer 04 Leverkusen and still in the running in the Champions League and DFB Cup, BVB clearly have much to play for going into the Rückrunde.