When a team departs the pitch to lengthy applause following a defeat, you know they must have got some things right. Speaking at the press conference on Thursday, Michael Zorc reiterated his thanks for the fans' "extraordinarily good" conduct and set the first-half performance as the benchmark for the rest of the season.

"The first half against Tottenham was very, very good. That was the level we need to strive to produce on the pitch on Saturday," said the sporting director ahead of the upcoming home game against VfB Stuttgart (Saturday at 15:30 CET). "I expect us to show the same intensity on the pitch as we did on Tuesday evening," the 56-year-old added.

Coach Lucien Favre was of a similar mind. "We played well and created a lot of chances against a very good team in the first period. Now, unfortunately, we need to focus solely on the league and look forwards. There are still 10 matches left."

The next opponents his charges will face are VfB Stuttgart, who are back on track following a 1-1 draw in Bremen and a 5-1 victory over Hannover. "It seems as though they've found their system" said Favre, adding: "They're better than they were in the first half of the season. Their defensive and offensive organisation is now working well."

But the Swabians are not the only ones to have rediscovered their form. "Almost every team has a period during the course of a season where their results dip," said Zorc, who continued. "Hopefully we now have that period behind us. The team is in a positive mood and will go into the match fully focused."

The Black & Yellows got their tactics spot on against Tottenham with a 4-3-3 formation in which Reus and Götze occupied offensive midfield roles. But the coach did not want to commit himself to the same system: "We were very dominant, but it's not certain that we'll play the same away again." Whether he does will partly depend on the personnel available. Favre said: "Three players have colds. We don't yet know whether they'll be back for training tomorrow."
Boris Rupert