Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp wants his side to solve their Bundesliga issues when they host Hamburg on Saturday.
The Westphalians triumphed for the second time in the Champions League in midweek, following up a 2-0 win over Arsenal with another impressive performance and 3-0 result at Anderlecht.
The star of the show was substitute Adrian Ramos, who scored twice from the bench.
It is not the same story in the Bundesliga, though, with five points already dropped at the Westfalenstadion this season.
“Even I’ve realised that in two Champions League games, we’ve got practically as many points as we have in six Bundesliga games, and also that we’ve not conceded,” said Klopp at a press conference.
“But what does that mean? That we should have played worse against Anderlecht?”
What it means is that Dortmund need to start delivering the same performances and results domestically before it gets too late.
“We’re not looking for excuses, but rather for explanations,” Klopp added. “We’re not making anything out to be harmless, but we do see the positives too. We’re not saying that we have problems in defence, but that there is something to imp-rove as we’ve conceded 11 goals.
“We’re not doing things in the Bundesliga in the way we are used to in the Champions League.
“The Bundesliga for us is the more important competition.”
Staying in the Bundesliga is crucial for Hamburg, who have yet to win a single game this season and only managed their first goal last weekend – in their sixth game.
With just two points this season, the northern Germany side, who avoided relegation only via a play-off in May, risk losing touch with safety if they are beaten for the fifth time, but they travel to Dortmund without goalkeeper Rene Adler, who has been ruled out for five weeks.
Nicolai Muller – the scorer of their one and only goal this season – has recovered from a muscular problem and should be able to keep his place in Josef Zinnbauer’s team.
Lionel Messi has complete freedom to play wherever he likes, Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has admitted.
The playing position of the Argentine star was up for debate this summer with speculation that incoming boss Enrique would end his days as a ‘false nine’ deep-lying forward and convert him into a more traditional playmaker.
It was also thought Enrique would attempt to take a stricter approach with Messi, forcing him to become just another member of the team rather than the man around whom everything revolves.
But less than two months into the season, Enrique has admitted that Messi can essentially do whatever he likes in an attempt to get himself involved in the action.
“Leo has complete freedom on the field of play, although not in the dressing room,” he said. “We adapt to him in order to get him on the ball as much as possible.”
Enrique also laughed off suggestions that he is seeking to lay down the law amongst his superstar players, refuting the claim that he has attempted to ‘mark his territory’ within the dressing room.
“I’m not a hunting dog,” he laughed. “The team is evolving by itself.”
Today’s trip to Rayo Vallecano presents an intriguing test and a rare opportunity to play against a team who will attempt to take on Barca at their own game rather than sitting back in defence.
Enrique admits he has great admiration for Rayo coach Paco Jemez, who has fashioned an exciting and attack-minded outfit despite working on a very limited budget. Famously, Rayo became the first team to command more possession of the ball than Barca in 317 games when the two sides met at the Vallecas last season, and Enrique has nothing but respect for their style of play.
“I like the team a lot,” he said. “They reduce the space on the pitch and they know how to play. They are one of the most attractive teams and Paco could manage one of the great teams.”
Enrique’s team are seeking to bounce back from their 3-2 midweek Champions League defeat against Paris Saint-Germain.
Chelsea take on Arsenal at Stamford Bridge tomorrow and previous results suggest they will inflict another defeat on Arsene Wenger who has never beaten Jose Mourinho in 11 attempts.
Andy Gray and Richard Keys, who front beIN Sports’ EPL coverage, discuss the game and this weekend's action.
Andy Gray: This is a game where everyone is going to judge Arsenal if they don’t get a result and say they still lack that cutting edge. If they lose it will also give more bragging rights to Mourinho who has never lost to Wenger.
Arsenal go into this game without the injured Mikel Arteta, Olivier Giroud, Mathieu Debuchy and Aaron Ramsey, all influential players, so it is a really big ask to get a win at Stamford Bridge.
Danny Welbeck’s first senior hat-trick against Galatasaray on Wednesday will give him a confidence boost but he has to score on a more regular basis, and needs to make an impact in this game.
After last year, when Chelsea literally blew them away 6-0, Wenger will have his team well prepared and will want them to grab the initiative from the off which is what they failed to do last season. However, it’s one thing to go to Stamford Bridge with a plan like that and another to make it work.
Last year they were seriously lacking in midfield with no physicality or authority and I still don’t see that has changed much.
For me, it’s still a bit on the light side. Mathieu Flamini might play but who else is there with real grit? Mesut Ozil? Santi Cazorla? Personally, I would play Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the centre there because he has the desire, power and running ability to take the game to Chelsea and create a few openings.
Chelsea thrashed Arsenal last season but Mourinho won’t allow any complacency because, apart from anything else, I get the impression that having not won a trophy now for three years, he has made the Premier League title his priority.
If they beat Arsenal they will be nine points ahead of them and it will be difficult for Wenger’s team to claw that back.
This won’t be another 6-0 but Chelsea have tightened up their defence in the last few games and with Willian, Oscar, Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas, who will be fired up to face his old club, they should win this 2-1.
Richard Keys: Last season Mourinho unfairly described Wenger as a “specialist in failure”. Funny that, because Mourinho has hardly been a glowing example of success over the past three seasons.
However, I do accept that he has always had a more powerful team than Wenger and that remains the case for this match which is why they won’t get revenge for that 6-0 mauling they got last season. Arsenal have a tendency to struggle when it comes to big matches like this because, although they always try to play attractive football, they don’t have anyone you could describe as powerful, someone who really gets stuck in. Ok, Welbeck got three against Galatasaray but I still can’t work out if he has what it takes to be truly world class.
There is no way they are going to get turned over like they did last season because they are a better side than they were then but I still don’t think they have got enough.
This is obviously a big game for Fabregas and I think Arsenal made a mistake by not taking him back. I understand why Wenger didn’t sign him because he has the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Ozil and felt he had enough of that type, but Fabregas is better than any of them. Ozil has been better lately but he remains an enigma.
Wenger has said it is vital for his team to win this game if they want to stay in the title race. Realistically, they were never in it because of that inability to scrap for wins and, like Andy, I can see Chelsea winning this 2-1.
Aston Villa v Man City
AG: Christian Benteke might be back from injury for this game and Villa desperately need him. The best thing they can hope for is to frustrate City and try and catch them on the break. However, I’m not sure that will work so I’m going for a 2-0 away win.
RK: In midweek we saw what I have always said about Man City – the characters in that dressing room remain flawed. Yaya Toure is a classic example. It is becoming plain whatever his problem is it is not down to fitness. Villa aren’t very good but they will fancy this after watching City struggle against Roma. 1-1.
Liverpool v West Brom
AG: Liverpool drew with Everton after a mediocre performance and then lost to Basel in the Champions League with Steven Gerrard having a pop at his team-mates for lack of effort. In contrast, West Brom have won their last three matches. However, Liverpool need a good result and I think we will see a response. 3-1 home win.
RK: What does Brendan Rodgers mean when he says he encourages his wingers to work within the framework of the goal and break the lines? I haven’t got a clue what he was on about and I suspect his players are just as baffled. A buoyant West Brom can get a 1-1 draw.
Man United v Everton
AG: Everton will try to defend well and then hit United on the break. They are a real threat going forward and will test what is a suspect United defence. 2-2.
RK: United are still well short at the back but I don’t think Everton have enough to win, so on the basis that this is at Old Trafford I’ll go for a 2-1 United victory.
Tottenham v Southampton
AG: Mauricio Pochettino will welcome his former club to White Hart Lane with Southampton higher in the table and playing much better than Spurs. I just feel we are due a performance from Tottenham and fancy them to win an entertaining game 2-1.
RK: Ronald Koeman has done a brilliant job at Southampton and the players who worked with Poc-hettino will be particularly keen to win this. 2-1 away win.
West Ham v QPR
AG: This is a decent West Ham side and I don’t see much light at the end of the tunnel for QPR so I’m going for a 2-0 Hammers’ victory.
RK: No idea where QPR are going apart from back down. West Ham are a good unit capable of scoring goals and they won’t have any problems winning this. 3-0.
Swansea v Newcastle
AG: Most will expect Swansea to win this but Newcastle are not as bad as their position suggests and I can see Alan Pardew’s side getting at least a draw. 1-1.
RK: I am not surprised Alan Pardew is still in charge at Newcastle. Sacking him wouldn’t make any difference to this team. 2-1 to Swansea.
Sunderland v Stoke
AG: I wouldn’t open the curtains to watch this game in my backyard. Both teams are struggling, have hardly got a goal between them and don’t have any creativity. 1-0 to Sunderland.
RK: Sunderland are going to struggle all season. They may not go down but they won’t trouble the top half of the table. Stoke look solid and they have one of the best goalkeepers in the league in Asmir Begovic. They’ll nick this 1-0.
Hull v Crystal Palace
AG: Neil Warnock has gone into Palace and got the players on side very quickly but Hull are nobody’s mugs and I think they will nick this 2-1 because of home advantage.
RK: Palace seem to be enjoying themselves while Hull haven’t quite found their form. Neil Warnock’s team are asking questions of teams every week but Hull are difficult to beat at home. 1-1.
Leicester v Burnley
AG: Burnley are finding life in the Premier League difficult and can’t score while Leicester have done really well and with striker Leonardo Ulloa, who was a fantastic buy from Brighton, they will have too much firepower. 2-0.
RK: Burnley are 35 minutes from setting a new Premier League record for time played without scoring and it looks like they are going back down. 2-0 to Leicester.