Football: Dortmund battle mental scars

Borussia Dortmund players thanking their supporters after their 3-1 German Bundesliga home win over Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend. The shirt they are holding aloft belongs to Marc Bartra, the team's Spanish defender who suffered a fractured arm in
Borussia Dortmund players thanking their supporters after their 3-1 German Bundesliga home win over Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend. The shirt they are holding aloft belongs to Marc Bartra, the team's Spanish defender who suffered a fractured arm in the explosions that hit the team bus.PHOTO: REUTERS

German side seek momentum to deny Monaco after trauma of attack on team bus

MONACO • Borussia Dortmund face an uphill task to overturn a 3-2 deficit against French rivals Monaco and keep their minds on football after the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final was marred by an attack on the German team's bus.

Three explosions rocked the Borussia coach on its way to the stadium last Tuesday and left the team's Spanish defender Marc Bartra with a fractured arm.

Although Borussia bounced back with a 3-1 Bundesliga win over Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, the mental scars remain.

"I wake up every night. Without any reason, I am jolted awake in terror," Dortmund's goalkeeper Roman Burki told Swiss newspaper Der Bund. "Then I can't get back to sleep and I am just relieved I am at home in my own bed."

The Swiss added that the team are getting help from psychologists and that football is a key part of the therapy.

"I'm happy to have something I can focus on," he said. "It is very important to be able to take your mind off things, think less about what has happened."

RELIVING THE TERROR

I wake up every night. Without any reason, I am jolted awake in terror. Then I can't get back to sleep and I am just relieved I am at home in my own bed. I'm happy to have something I can focus on. It is very important to be able to take your mind off things, think less about what has happened.

ROMAN BURKI, Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper, on the aftermath of the explosions on the team bus last week.

Dortmund's thoughts will today be on treble-chasing Monaco, who are top of the French league and through to the Cup semi-finals.

The German side are boosted by the return of midfielder Marco Reus, who scored against Eintracht Frankfurt - just 122 seconds into his comeback from six weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

The 27-year-old has the experience, the playmaking skills and was not on the ill-fated team bus last Tuesday.

Dortmund, however, have never progressed to the next round after losing the first leg at home.

And free-scoring Monaco will be confident of finishing the job against Borussia on their own turf. They are also in control in Ligue 1, having scored 90 goals in 32 games.

Leonardo Jardim's men also meet Paris Saint-Germain in a mouth-watering Cup semi-final on April 26 but the first thing on their minds will surely be to try to emulate their 2004 Champions League achievement, when they reached the final.

Monaco's Polish defender Kamil Glik stressed the back four would have to be wary of a similarly prolific Dortmund side likely to throw caution to the wind.

"For us defenders, evolving in a team that attacks so much demands a lot of work and attention," he told the club's website.

"The Champions League demands the utmost vigilance because you're up against the best players. But we have to defend as a team as it's a collective job."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 19, 2017, with the headline 'Dortmund battle mental scars'. Print Edition | Subscribe