Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund continue to believe in their Champions League chances despite their defeats to home on Wednesday.
Both now face momentous challenges next week, with Bayern going down 2-1 to Real Madrid, and Dortmund trailing 3-2 after their defeat to Monaco.
German media were full of praise for Dortmund despite their defeat in the match postponed from Tuesday following the bomb attack on the team bus.
Bild headlined after a match in which the Dortmund players demonstrated morale but could not prevent some key decisions going against them.
“In the second half in particular, my team did very well. Unfortunately, after the events of Tuesday, we were not in the best condition,” Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel said.
Tuchel had been critical of the decision to go ahead with the quarter-final first-leg game a day after the bomb attacks saying, “The dates are given to us and we have to function. We had the feeling it was if a beer can had been thrown at our bus.”
Dortmund now have to pick themselves up for the Bundesliga visit Saturday of Eintracht Frankfurt, when Tuchel’s side will be hoping at least to get past third-placed Hoffenheim, who host Borussia Moenchengladbach.
Dortmund’s hopes of a Champions League semi-final place cannot be dismissed, although history is against them: in all previous six occasions Dortmund lost a home first leg in Europe they were eliminated.
“We’re facing a big challenge in the return leg,” Tuchel said.
“We will continue to believe and try everything. It required a lot of bravery and courage, and we showed that tonight. Perhaps it also helped us to do something and distract ourselves with football for the 90 minutes.”
Bayern now face visiting Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday aiming to retain a 10-point lead at the top of the table over RB Leipzig, who entertain sixth-placed Freiburg.
The German champions rued a penalty miss by Arturo Vidal to make it 2-0 after the Chilean headed Bayern’s opener. The second half dismissal for Javi Martinez following two quick yellow cards then made it an uphill struggle against a Real side that could have scored more than Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace.
“In the first half we had the game under control but were missing the efficiency,” Bayern’s Italian coach Carlo Ancelotti said.
“Playing with one man less made it difficult of course, but we still did quite well. Now we have six days to the return leg and we will try our best. In Italy we say, we are still alive.”
Bayern midfielder Thomas Mueller, who played up front in the absence of injured Robert Lewandowski (who should be fit for the return), said the tie was not over yet.
“We are confident enough. We have the quality and the passion to win in Madrid,” he said.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer said: “We believe we can do it. We were the better team in the first half, with more self-confidence we could have made it 2-0 or 3-0.”
The weekend Bundesliga focus will otherwise be on the relegation tussles, where improving Ingolstadt hope to get out of the drop zone with a visit to fellow strugglers Wolfsburg on Saturday.
Augsburg, who have slipped into the relegation play-off spot without a win in six games including three straight defeats, badly need three points at home to seventh-place Cologne.
Mainz, who are also in free fall after five successive defeats and now level on points with Augsburg, meanwhile take on fifth-placed Hertha Berlin, who have lost their last seven away games.
Bottom side Darmstadt’s relegation could be sealed on Sunday if they lose to visiting Schalke, depending on other results.
The day’s highlight though is the northern derby between Werder Bremen and SV Hamburg, who have both climbed out of immediate relegation danger.
Hamburg can take confidence from a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim and have lost only one of their last six games, but face a Bremen side on even better form – with six wins and two draws from their last eight.NAN