Boss Stoger ‘convinced’ Dortmund won’t let Champions League spot slip

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Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Stoger is adamant he is not feeling any final-day nerves as his side prepare to visit Hoffenheim with a Champions League place at stake.

Anything better than a two-goal defeat will be enough to guarantee a top-four finish for the visitors, while Hoffenheim need a win to hold off fifth-placed Bayer Leverkusen, who start the day behind on goal difference.

Dortmund go into the game on the back of a baffling loss of form which saw them held by lowly Werder Bremen two weeks ago before last weekend’s shock home defeat to Mainz.

But Stoger insisted in his pre-match press conference: “We are starting in a really strong position, and I trust our ability to get a point or a victory there.

“I absolutely cannot understand how it could now be regarded as an unfavourable situation. We will give it our all to achieve our objective and I am convinced that we will make it.”

Stoger will be without the suspended Sokratis Papastathopoulos, while Omer Toprak is also a major concern after injuring his calf in the defeat to Mainz.

The mathematics are more complicated for Hoffenheim, who need a win to hold off Leverkusen, who take on Hanover, but could also overtake Dortmund with a big enough swing.

The visitors had looked a strong bet to seal a Champions League place after a run of nine games unbeaten, only to come crashing back to earth with a surprise defeat to mid-table Stuttgart last week.

Nevertheless, coach Julian Nagelsmann believes his side can bounce back and secure qualification against their opponents, provided they try to put the potential outcomes out of their mind.

Nagelsmann told a press conference: “I’m proud of what we’ve managed to achieve this season and, if we could qualify for the Champions League group stage, that would be historic. We will give everything to try to make it happen.

“We’ve got to try and play our way on Saturday and not worry too much about the standings. We want to win the game, that is the first step. We can’t let it enter our mind that we will leapfrog Dortmund if we beat them by two goals or more.

“We’re not going to throw the kitchen sink at them from the outset and then probably find ourselves trailing early on. That doesn’t mean we won’t take risks though – that’s what this team is about.”

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