- Hummels scored Dortmund's goal in 1-1 draw.
- Says BVB created too few chances against Liverpool.
- BVB face Schalke in derby before return game at Anfield.
Borussia Dortmund skipper Mats Hummels is already casting an eye towards next week’s return game with Liverpool FC after the two sides drew 1-1 in their UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg on Thursday.
The BVB skipper was at the heart of the action at both ends – making up for an error in the lead-up to the Reds’ away goal by heading in an equaliser – and agreed that it was a mixed performance from himself as well as his team.
Speaking to the media after the game, the 27-year-old hinted at what Die Schwarz-Gelben need to improve for round two and also gave his two cents on this weekend’s all-important Revierderby clash with local rivals FC Schalke 04.
Question: Mats Hummels, how would you assess this game against Liverpool?
Mats Hummels: It’s a fair result – we didn’t get anywhere near the level of performance we’re capable of. We’re in a phase at the moment where we’re struggling slightly to dominate matches from the start and create chances. Our game’s dropped off a bit going forward, and at the back we definitely need to get better. They’re just little things that need fixing, but considering how we can play, there’s definitely room for improvement.
Question: What went wrong exactly for Liverpool’s goal?
Hummels: It almost of came out of nothing and it was too easy. I spotted the danger pretty early, which is why I went forward to the ball. But I shouldn’t have committed myself. Sven [Bender] should have been the one to try and win the ball and I should have covered.
Question: Up until Liverpool scored, you were dominant. Did the goal upset your rhythm?
Hummels: I’m not sure, really. Before they scored, we were doing a good job of controlling the game and we had a couple of opportunities where we could and even should have scored. But we had too many situations where, if it had been the first half of the season, we’d have created a bucket-load of clear-cut chances, whereas this time we just created too little. The final pass didn’t arrive or our shooting was off. Those are the little things we need to improve.
Question: Did the team have problems adjusting to the way Jürgen Klopp set his Liverpool side up?
Hummels: People always talk about the system: was it a 4-3-3, was it the Christmas tree formation that we played once or twice [under Klopp]? It’s always a matter of how the players on the pitch interpret the formation. The important thing is that you compete well and Liverpool did that. Defensively they were very aggressive, although we managed to find some gaps between their defence and midfield and didn’t make enough of those moments. That was the key for us really: we got into the positions we wanted to but didn’t carve out enough opportunities.
Question: Talk us through your equaliser.
Hummels: It was classic goal from a corner. The ball was played in perfectly and I’d timed my run well. I also had an advantage over [Adam] Lallana, as he’s a bit shorter than me, so he was a good person to be up against in the air. From that distance you then just have to make sure your header’s on target, and I managed to do that.
Question: Liverpool responded well to conceding your goal, however…
Hummels: After we scored, they then had a period of pressure, and we couldn’t quite wrestle things back our way. After that we had them back under control but we didn’t test them enough, even though we pushed them back to the edge of their box a lot.
Question: Roman Weidenfeller turned in an exceptional performance for you. What did you make of his contribution?
Hummels: Roman played really well. He saved that one-on-one just before half time – he’s world-class in those situations – and then he made a brilliant stop for Philippe Coutinho’s shot in the second half. He put in a really excellent performance.
Question: How do you assess the position you are in ahead of the return leg?
Hummels: It’s neither good nor bad, really. It’s an okay result and the tie is still there for us to win. If we get a 2-2 draw, for example, we’ll be through, so that should give us some encouragement. Liverpool showed they have quality and we know it won’t be easy, but I think our chances of getting through aren’t just good, they’re very good. We know our strengths, and if we can bring those out on to the pitch again, well be in the last four.
Question: Before you take to the pitch at Anfield, there is the small matter of the Revierderby against Schalke.
Hummels: We hadn’t been thinking of the derby until this game was out of the way. It’s always a bit more important to the fans – for us the game becomes relevant when it actually arrives. I have no idea how Schalke will approach it; we just have to focus on what we do. We want to play our own game and keep the title race interesting, at least until Matchday 33.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK