Dortmund’s Jurgen Klopp ‘not interested at all’ in Champions League race, wants Bundesliga survival
Jurgen Klopp says his priority for the second half of the season is keeping struggling Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, not qualifying for next season’s Uefa Champions League.
Dortmund face Juventus home and away in the last 16 of Europe next month after winning their Champions League group, but a disastrous start to the league season has left them second from bottom in the German league.
The 2013 Champions League finalists have qualified for Europe for the last four seasons, but with his team currently 12 points away from the European places and near the foot of the Bundesliga table, Dortmund’s head coach Klopp says simply avoiding relegation is his priority.
“I’m currently not interested at all in qualifying for the Champions League next season,” Klopp told German magazine Sport Bild with Dortmund away to fellow Champions League side Bayer Leverkusen on January 31 in their first league match of 2015.
“As of today, I have no problem with keeping us in the league and spending next year putting in a lot of training.”
The loss of star players Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski im the last two seasons has taken their toll on the 2011 and 2012 German champions who have struggled badly for form this season despite finishing as runners-up to Bayern Munich for the last two seasons.
With 10 defeats in 17 matches, Dortmund have the worst losing record in the Bundesliga and Klopp admits he has made mistakes.
“There have been common misconceptions, such as whether someone is really physically able to help us,” he admitted.
“When someone plays who isn’t 100 per cent fit, then he makes mistakes.
“It’s the same as if someone is sleep deprived for 72 hours and then has to play in the world chess championships, that simply doesn’t work,” said Klopp, who added he is “100 per cent” convinced Dortmund will stay up.
German media have reported Dortmund’s Germany winger Marco Reus will announce his future in March as a release clause in his contract allows him to leave at the end of the season.
But Klopp says he does not expect any of his stars to walk out if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
“If there is a player in our team who wants to leave because of a single year without Champions League football, then I have completely rated him wrongly,” insisted Klopp.
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Published: January 22, 2015 04:00 AM