Christian Pulisic returning to form ahead of Borussia Dortmund’s top-four tussle with Eintracht Frankfurt
The USA international made an immediate impact after replacing Mario Götze in the 62nd minute at the Signal Iduna Park on Thursday, crossing for Andre Schürrle to tap in from close range and give the Black-Yellows a lifeline.
The 2-1 final scoreline is by no means a disaster, but BVB will need to score at least twice in Austria next week – and show a marked improvement collectively – if they’re to turn the tie in their favour and reach the quarter-finals.
“They were a good opponent,” Pulisic admitted after Thursday’s surprise defeat to the Austrian Bundesliga leaders. “We started well, but then kinda went through a bad phase. I tried to bring on some energy, but in the end it just wasn’t enough to tie it up and try to get the winner.
“We weren’t completely 100 per cent tuned into the game, for the whole game. We were in for parts of it, and that’s not going to be enough against this team. We need to be ready to go for the full 90 minutes. We need to come out with the right attitude, ready to play, in every single game. We have to be ready against any team we play.”
Watch: Pulisic has 60 seconds to answer YOUR pressing questions
Dortmund have little under a week to fine-tune their game plan for the return leg in Salzburg, but first there is the little matter of Sunday’s Bundesliga clash with fellow top-four hopefuls Eintracht Frankfurt.
BVB are one of five teams, separated by just four points after 25 matches, in the hunt for a place alongside runaway leaders Bayern Munich in next season’s UEFA Champions League group stage. Beat Frankfurt, and Peter Stöger’s men will retain their position in the top three. Lose, and they could fall as low as fifth – it really is that tight.
Although Pulisic has been used as a second-half substitute in Dortmund’s last three Bundesliga games, his eye-catching performance in the Europa League makes him good value to be recalled to Peter Stöger’s starting line-up for the visit of Frankfurt, after a difficult run of form.
“My form is not the best it’s been, but I’m working hard, trying to help the team everywhere I can,” Pulisic said. “I just have to stay positive, keep going and things will turn around. I just need to keep going.”
Who better to clip the high-flying Eagles’ wings on Sunday evening…?