The frustration was palpable as they departed eastern Slovakia, the disappointment written all over the faces of the players, coaching team and support staff after the Borussia Dortmund U19s were unlucky eliminated from the UEFA Youth League. The team suffered a 2-1 defeat against Zilina.
"It hurts," admitted coach Mike Tullberg, who was at pains to focus on the future. "We will now try to pick up where we left off in the Bundesliga." Namely by getting successful results. Starting on Saturday (11:00 CET) against Wuppertaler SV. BVB currently top the table with an eight-point lead over Leverkusen – and the aim is to keep it that way.
The players need to have processed the 2-1 loss to MSK Zilina by the weekend. "It's not a cliché when we say that the boys learn a lot from the UEFA Youth League matches. Also from a painful defeat and a feeling that they don't necessarily want to feel again. They have to do even more and be even more focused when in doubt. This is an extremely valuable experience for them," explained Lars Ricken, Director of the Youth Performance Centre, who continued: "We like this competition, it is so valuable for the training and development of our talented youngsters."
The coaching team do not need much time to analyse the game. In a nutshell: BVB defended too openly at times and lacked purpose, effectiveness and ruthlessness up front. Mike Tullberg summarised: "The boys implemented our plan well, played some great football in possession and created some great chances. Sammy (Bamba) and Paris (Brunner) alone should have scored three or four goals. But we were physically inferior to Zilina at the back and very vulnerable. Overall, we gave away too many chances against a good opponent."
Tullberg draws positive Youth League conclusion
Lars Ricken admitted that the absence of Filippo Mane (injured) and Hendry Blank (transfer to Salzburg), who excelled in central defence in the group stages, was a handicap: "We knew we would have problems in defence. I'm much more annoyed that we didn't capitalise on our opportunities up front. I don't know when we've had that many chances to score in the Youth League."
Nonetheless, Mike Tullberg ultimately drew a positive conclusion of the Youth League season: "Given the current personnel situation, not much more was possible. We played a great season overall, the boys gave a good account of themselves and once again represented Borussia Dortmund very well. Our young players can take a lot from this competition that will help them in the future."
In the second half of the Bundesliga season and then possibly in the German Championship final round. Mike Tullberg will once again be without Cole Campbell, who is serving the final match of his suspension, against Wuppertaler SV. U17 players Nick Cherny, Elias Benkara and Ousmane Diallo are set to complement the squad. U17 World Cup winner Almugera Kabar could return to the starting line-up for the first time.
The disappointment of Zilina should then be gone by Sunday at the latest. (wiwi)