Dortmund - Borussia Dortmund are in positive spirits following the conclusion of their mid-season training camp in south-eastern Spain, even if not everything went quite to plan.
A bittersweet nine-day spell in La Manga ended with a 1-0 win over Romanian champions FC Steaua Bucuresti, although the victory was overshadowed by injuries to midfielders Kevin Großkreutz and Sebastian Kehl.
Injuries and comebacks
The former is only expected to be out of action for a week after tearing ankle ligaments, but Kehl is anticipating a lengthier spell on the sidelines after hurting his shoulder in a clash with team-mate Mats Hummels. Defender Erik Durm sustained an adductor injury earlier on the camp, ruling him out of BVB’s Matchday-18 tie away to Bayer 04 Leverkusen on 31 January, while defensive midfielder Sven Bender will be absent for approximately another three weeks following knee surgery. Yet head coach Jürgen Klopp insisted it was not all doom and gloom. “A lot of our players took a big step forward here,” said the 47 year-old. “Adrian Ramos was able to train fully with the team again. Henrikh Mkhitaryan should be able to do the same during the week, so he’ll be able to practice normally for a week [ahead of the Bundesliga restart]. We brought Marco Reus back and we’ve worked on a lot of things that we needed to do.”
‘We pressed the reset button’
The temporary loss of three midfielders has been offset not only by the return of Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski, but also new signing Kevin Kampl, whom Klopp described as a “fanstastic footballer”. Inevitably, however, the spectre of Dortmund’s dismal first of half of the season still lingered, with the five-time champions in 17th place - level on points with bottom club SC Freiburg.
“We all know we’re in a tricky situation,” said Lukasz Piszczek, the right-back adding: “But we can’t keep looking back: we need to leave the Hinrunde behind us now.” Sporting director Michael Zorc struck a similar chord: “At the end of the first half of the season we were in a downward spiral, so the winter break came at a great time for us,” he told Der Westen newspaper. “It allowed us to take a breather and press the reset button.”
Piszczek draws on experience
It appears to have worked, as Dortmund have won both of their warm-up games so far, defeating Swiss side FC Sion 1-0 prior to beating Steaua. The club have two more friendlies lined up before their first competitive assignment of the year in Leverkusen: Netherlands' FC Utrecht on Wednesday 21 January and Fortuna Düsseldorf three days later. While some of the feel-good factor may have returned to the club thanks to their sun-kissed spell in Spain, Piszczek is taking nothing for granted: "I've been in a similar situation before with Hertha Berlin, where everyone thought we were too good to go down. The only thing to do now is to stay focused, not allow ourselves to get distracted and to work hard."
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