BERLIN, Nov 27 (Reuters) - Borussia Dortmund put their European campaign firmly back on track with a 3-1 win over Napoli on Tuesday, shrugging off talk of a crisis after three straight defeats with a performance reminiscent of last season’s superb run to the final.
Coach Juergen Klopp had nothing but praise for his team’s ability to recover from its worst run of form since 2010, while missing an entire first-choice defence through injury.
“We want to continue living our Champions League dream despite all the prophecies of doom,” Klopp told reporters. “It all looks better now but we still need to win in Marseille.”
The victory was positive news for Dortmund in many ways, lifting the side up to second place in Group F ahead of Napoli with a better head-to-head record against the Italians going into the final matchday.
Last season’s runners-up will now secure a spot in the knockout stage for the second year in a row if they beat Olympique Marseille next month. A draw would also be enough if table-topping Arsenal avoid defeat in Naples.
Prior to Tuesday’s game, there was talk of the first major crisis under Klopp.
His team had dropped seven points behind leaders Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga following Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to their rivals while their European run was on the line after a home loss to Arsenal earlier this month.
The German coach also had to reshuffle his line-up to deal with a string of injuries, including to both of his central defenders Mats Hummels and Neven Subotic.
Midfielder Sven Bender slipped into the central defence and despite suffering a broken nose, continued to battle on bravely, as did 21-year-old Erik Durm, who is making a name for himself at left back in place of the injured Marcel Schmelzer.
“We see our situation in a very relaxed way and are focused exclusively on us. There has been no internal pressure from anyone at the club,” Klopp said.
“It was important that he (Bender) stayed on because of his performance,” he said. “It was a great game for him and we had to change his bloodied shirt several times. The last one we got from the club shop.”
With defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos keeping Gonzalo Higuain quiet, Dortmund managed to launch their trademark counter-attacks, two of which leading to dazzling goals for Jakub Blaszykowski and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after Marco Reus had put them in the lead from the penalty spot.
“Our chances are much better than before the game but nothing has been settled yet,” said Klopp, who led Dortmund to the 2011 and 2012 German league titles.
“Thinking that we are already through would be a big mistake but it is now in our hands to stay in the Champions League.” (Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by John O‘Brien)