Jürgen Klopp told UEFA.com the way his Borussia Dortmund side played in the group stage was "surprising" and gave him belief they could achieve something special this season.
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If Borussia Dortmund win the UEFA Champions League at Wembley on Saturday, they will certainly have done it the hard way.
Having negotiated a group comprising three other domestic title winners from last season – AFC Ajax, Manchester City FC and Real Madrid CF, whom they would later oust in a gripping semi-final memorable for Robert Lewandowski's four-goal first-leg salvo – the Schwarzgelben were no strangers to drama in the knockout stage.
Yet, for all that his side profited from late goals against FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Málaga CF in the last 16 and quarter-finals respectively, not to mention withstanding a rousing Madrid comeback at the Santiago Bernabéu, coach Jürgen Klopp identifies a 1-1 draw on matchday two as the moment he began to sense that maybe Dortmund could achieve something remarkable.
"The best feelings we've had so far were when we made it into the second round, because it was pretty special how we managed to do it," he told UEFA.com. "The way the team played in the group stage was pretty surprising, and the match at Manchester City was an eye-opener for us – it showed we could compete with the strongest teams in Europe or even achieve more against them."
Standing between Dortmund and a second European title are last year's runners-up FC Bayern München. They may have finished a massive 25 points behind Jupp Heynckes' team in the Bundesliga and lost two of the clubs' four meetings this term, yet Klopp is unmoved. He will, he says, approach what is arguably BVB's biggest match since that triumphant 1997 final like any other.
"We have never adapted to our opponents, neither have Bayern, so why should we do it now? Just because it's a final? The trick is to treat it like a normal game, but execute it in a special way, and we will do that. And that will be decisive."
To hear more from the Dortmund coach, click on the video player above.