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Monday, 25 November 2013

Dortmund for Make or Mar For 'Final' against Napoli

DORTMUND: Coach Jurgen Klopp has said Borussia Dortmund will approach Tuesday's Champions League clash at home to Napoli like it were the final with another defeat pointing to a group-stage exit.

Dortmund's 1-0 defeat at home to Arsenal three weeks ago has left last season's finalists third in Group F, three points adrift of both the Gunners and Napoli, who are level on nine points.

The Germans must win both of their last two games to be sure of reaching the knock-out stages with a trip to Marseille also to come in December.

A draw would be enough for Napoli to qualify for the knockout phase for the second time in three seasons, but defeat would allow Dortmund to draw level and set up a tense final round of matches.

"We are definitely under pressure in the most exciting group in the Champions League," said Klopp, whose side lost 2-1 at Rafael Benitez's Napoli in their opening group game.

"It is up to us to keep it exciting by winning. "Things will be complicated if we don't win our two games. "Napoli know that as well and this will shape tomorrow's game." Having beaten Arsenal in London and Marseille at home in Europe, Dortmund have lost their last three games, including Saturday's 3-0 defeat at home to European champions Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.

Injury has decimated Borussia with their entire back four missing after Mats Hummels and Marcel Schmelzer both returned from international duty last week with ligament injuries.

It has meant Klopp had to throw ex-Germany centre back Manuel Friedrich straight in against Bayern, having only been signed as emergency cover last week.

Friedrich's centre-back partner Sokratis has said Dortmund are desperate to win to keep their Champions League's ambitions alive having reached last season's final in May.

"We have to work hard again, this will be like a final for us," said the Greece international.

"All the players know what's at stake. We are ready and we know that we still have things in our own hands."

Klopp has said veteran defensive midfielder Sebastian Kehl is an option having returned from injury.

And Poland right-back Lukasz Piszczek could also feature off the bench having recovered from pre-season surgery.

Napoli have injury worries of their own with captain and attacking midfielder Marek Hamsik ruled out after suffering a foot injury in their 1-0 defeat to Parma.

More worryingly, Benitez's side have lost their last two Serie A matches and need a morale-boosting win of their own at Dortmund's Westfalenstadion.

"I have a lot of respect for Dortmund, they earned it last season in Europe," said Benitez.

"This will be a good test for us to see how far we've come. "We have played well in three of our four Champions League games so far, we didn't play so well only in our (2-0 defeat) at Arsenal.

"Our team is still developing, it is a process and very exciting." Spanish goalkeeper Pep Reina, on loan from Liverpool, said Napoli are eager to beat Dortmund and keep up the pressure on Arsenal, who host bottom-side Marseille the same night.

"After two league losses, we will play with even more heart," said the 31-year-old.

"We shouldn't play for a draw, they have too much quality for that. "We know what we want -- to go through to the next round."
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