A trip to the Europa League Semi-Finals is on the line when Borussia Dortmund make another trip to England, this time to face Liverpool in a crucial second leg at Anfield.
Divock Origi shocked Dortmund fans in the first leg when he opened the scoring at the Westfalenstadion with what could yet prove to be a vital away goal for Liverpool. BVB responded through Mats Hummels after a short corner routine when he headed home from a Henrikh Mkhitaryan cross. It was the Captain's fourth career European goal.
Weidenfeller stands on his head! Credit to /u/EzPzJandro on Reddit.
The away goal makes the result in the first leg a disappointing one for Thomas Tuchel's men, but it could have easily been worse. 35-year-old Roman Weidenfeller turned back the clocks and had an incredible game. He most notably made a sequence of fantastic saves in the early second half to keep Dortmund on level terms.
Weidenfeller's performance helped keep the game at 1-1, which thus gives BVB a good chance of getting the result they need in Liverpool despite the away goal from the first leg. There are no scenarios in which Dortmund can advance without scoring, but even a 1-1 draw would be good enough for extra time. Two goals for the visitors at Anfield would probably be enough to see them through, assuming the defense doesn't self-destruct.
A boost for Dortmund could come in the form of midfielder Ilkay Gundogan, who may return to the starting lineup after coming on as a substitute against Schalke at the weekend. Gundogan, who has been linked with a transfer elsewhere this summer, hasn't started for BVB since the scoreless draw against Bayern Munich on March 5th. Neven Subotic is the only player unavailable due to injury for Dortmund.
Dortmund have won five of their seven European away fixtures this term (W5 D1 L1). #UEL pic.twitter.com/1gljMg54YV— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 12, 2016
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has backed Joe Allen to get another start after he impressed in Liverpool's 4-1 victory against Stoke City on Sunday. Allen came on in the first leg for Jordan Henderson, whose injury is bad enough to keep him out for the rest of the season. Roberto Firmino is still only just back from injury and may not start after playing a full 90 minutes against Stoke. Origi will probably start again for the Reds, with Daniel Sturridge providing a threat off the bench.
The atmosphere at Anfield should be electric for this match, thanks in a large part to the travelling Dortmund fans. Surely we'll hear another nice rendition of "You'll Never Walk Alone" before the contest from both groups of supporters. Although it will be tough to match last week's effort in Dortmund. The traveling supporters will also reportedly pay tribute to those lost in the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster with a pre-game tifo.
James Milner: "European nights at Anfield are definitely right up there with anywhere on the planet." #UEL pic.twitter.com/cQjyqZqQZS— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) April 12, 2016
BVB are looking to get back to winning ways after their 2-2 draw with heated rivals Schalke over the weekend. Dortmund let two leads slip during the game and can ill-afford to do the same in Thursday's match. Tuchel's lineup for the Revierderby was not his first choice one, a decision which will hopefully have the BVB players fresh and ready for the encounter at Anfield.
Up for grabs is a trip to the Europa League Semi-Finals and a chance to continue both clubs' respective quests for silverware this season. Dortmund still have the DFB-Pokal semis to look forward to, but the Europa League represents Liverpool's last shot at a trophy this campaign. A trip to the May 18th final in Basel, Switzerland would have extra importance to Liverpool as it would allow them to qualify for next year's Champions League, something they will not be able to achieve through their finish in the Premier League.
Borussia Dortmund will be in next year's Champions League, that much we know. But wouldn't it be perfect if BVB could return to the top European competition on the back of winning the Europa League? A European Cup is a European Cup, and we've never won this one or its predecessors. So why not this year?