"I think it's safe to say we won't have two 0-0 draws." Thomas Tuchel is gearing up his Dortmund side up for a spectacular quarter-final meeting with Monaco.
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It is 20 years since Dortmund won the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League, beating Juventus 3-1 in the final, and as his team prepare to take on Monaco in the quarter-finals, a second success is the target for Thomas Tuchel's men. The 43-year-old Dortmund coach, who succeeded Jürgen Klopp in 2015, gave his view of the challenge ahead:
I don't think you'll find any team at this stage who don't believe they can go all the way, but you've got to be realistic. As unspectacular as it may sound, we can't afford to have a single bad half; to get through, you need two top performances, and that means four top halves.
Monaco are a bit like us: spectacular, attack-minded and strong, and their squad is a similar age to ours. They play at a very high tempo and, in addition to individual talent, they have a very strong team ethic. I think it's safe to say we won't have two 0-0 draws; both teams are too interested in scoring and pushing themselves to the limit. I'm very optimistic but I always am. We feel well-prepared for every game and we are so strong and confident that we always believe we can win.
I want everyone who comes to the stadium to enjoy watching us because we play attacking football and outscore our opponents. I think we are good at winning the ball back, good at playing at a high tempo, good at quick attacking interplay and we're also a hard-working team. I'd also say we've got a strong team identity and spirit.
The UEFA Champions League is a crazy experience, it is something different; I even wear a suit and tie for games (I prefer a tracksuit for the Bundesliga). It is like a football festival and there is a special energy. We get to play in big stadiums against teams with rich traditions; it brings back memories of watching European Cup games on TV with my dad. I knew I wouldn't get to see another one for a month, so I'd really lap it up.
The biggest challenge when you are involved is staying normal; you're wearing different clothes, the anthem is playing, it's in the evening, you're up against the biggest clubs in Europe, but you have to coach like you would in the Bundesliga. Once it's game time and the handshake with Zinédine Zidane is over, it kicks off and it's my job to give the team the best possible chance of winning.
Being coach of a big, passionate club like Dortmund is already the stuff of dreams – just standing in the dug-out in front of 80,000 fans and leading the team to victory in a close game against Ingolstadt! Getting to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals would be amazing, but so is winning the derby against Schalke. Just being the coach and having people tell you you're doing a good job at Dortmund is a dream come true.
You have to take every challenge seriously. I don't think: 'Oh, on Saturday it's the Bundesliga but then on Tuesday it's the Champions League, so we'll take it easy and rest some players.' You have to place the utmost significance on every game. That's what it's about now. The games are coming thick and fast, and we want this run of fixtures to last as long as possible – hopefully all the way to the final!"