Berlin (AFP) – Thomas Tuchel admits his Borussia Dortmund team is still struggling to process their Europa League defeat at Liverpool as they prepare for Sunday’s Bundesliga clash against bogey-side Hamburg.
“There was a great depression. The feeling was still dominant on Friday,” the Dortmund coach admitted on Saturday.
“It was a very drastic, negative experience. We need to handle it very openly and honestly.”
Dortmund are licking the wounds from Thursday’s dramatic European exit as they let a 3-1 second-leg lead at Anfield slip to a 4-3 quarter-final defeat as Dejan Lovren’s 91st-minute winner sealed Liverpool’s 5-4 victory on aggregate.
The last-gasp defeat has taken a heavy toll as Dortmund prepare to host Hamburg and keep the pressure on Bundesliga leaders Bayern, who started the weekend with a seven-point lead.
“We had a realistic chance of winning the title, it was there for the taking,” said Dortmund captain Mats Hummels.
“That’s a huge disappointment for everyone in Dortmund. I believed that we’d win the thing.”
Hummels then gave a clue to where Dortmund went wrong on Merseyside: “We thought we were through.”
Dortmund’s CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke said the disappointment “sits deep and will go even deeper” while club president Reinhard Rauball said he envied a colleague who had gone to bed with Borussia 3-1 ahead in Liverpool.
“At least he had a good night’s sleep, unlike me,” said Rauball.
“That is the worst defeat in my time with Borussia Dortmund, worse than at Wembley against Bayern (in the 2013 Champions League final).”
Dortmund have the chance to redeem their Europa League defeat when they play Hertha Berlin next Wednesday in the German Cup semi-finals.
But Tuchel says his side must focus on beating mid-table Hamburg, who have proved to be their bogey team of late.
Dortmund are winless in their last four league games against Hamburg and lost 3-1 away to Bruno Labbadia’s side last November.
Hamburg also sneaked a 1-0 win at Dortmund on their last visit to the Signal Iduna Park in October 2014.
Hamburg have won just three of their last ten league games, but Tuchel is taking nothing fro granted.
“On Sunday, we won’t be playing to get ready for Wednesday, we’ll be playing for tomorrow and the 81,000 fans watching,” said Tuchel.
“I rate Hamburg as very efficient and very passionate and it’s obvious that we will need a good performance on Sunday.”