Borussia Dortmund unfazed by injuries in fine European start
When Borussia Dortmund midfielder Sebastian Kehl was taken off at halftime of their Champions League 2-0 win over Arsenal on Tuesday with adductor muscle problems, he became the latest name on a long injury list.
Yet last season`s Bundesliga runners-up showed no sign of being affected by more than half a dozen absences and delivered a scintillating performance that will no doubt act as a warning to the other two teams in Group D, Galatasaray and Anderlecht, who drew 1-1.
In a masterclass of pressing, Dortmund displayed resilience and an unusual ability to efficiently compensate the loss of any player.
"We wanted to be a pressing machine and a counter-pressing machine and we did it," coach Juergen Klopp said. "Our opponents must have been impressed by this."
Klopp, however, was without injured midfielders Nuri Sahin, Ilkay Guendogan, Marco Reus and Jakub Blaszczykowski while captain Mats Hummels was also missing from their defence.
"I would not have liked to be playing against us tonight," he said, heaping praise on his players for a near flawless performance.
"Our pace, the spaces we used, it was just very difficult to defend against us. When you gain possession and with one contact the ball goes forward and then there is already someone there to take it even further, it is just too difficult to defend."
This is not the first time Dortmund, who won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012, have managed to get the job done even without their arguably strongest team.
Forward Ciro Immobile, who scored their first goal with a dazzling 50 metre run, was not even set to start.
"But my assistant had the brilliant idea of going with Ciro and it worked out perfectly," Klopp said.
His team have been successfully filling gaps of departing players, poached by other European heavyweights, for years.
Immobile, brought in to replace striker Robert Lewandowski, who joined rivals Bayern Munich, did exactly that despite having failed to score in the league so far, as did Erik Durm in an outstanding yet rare right back appearance, replacing the injured Lukasz Piszczek.
"We miss all our injured players in all areas but when matchday comes I can only think about those able to play," Klopp said.
"We now have five games in 16, 17 days and we still have some variation possibilities but not many any more."