With the top four out of reach for Liverpool and Bayern Munich edging away from Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, Thursday’s Europa League tie between Jürgen Klopp’s current and former clubs could end up the most important game of the season for both.
Win, and whichever team does will head into the semi-finals as at least tentative favourites to win the Europa League. It’s a massive game, made even bigger by Klopp’s presence, and Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang says everyone at Dortmund is looking forward to it.
"It’s great for us to have the game," the striker told reporters when asked about the mid-week Europa League tie following Dortmund’s 3-2 victory over Werder Bremen on the weekend. "We can show Klopp we have worked hard to get back where we were and that we have progression.
"It will be a very difficult game, that’s for sure, but we all want to show Klopp that we have been working very hard. And personally, I owe him a lot. It was great to work with him, and he taught me many things, so if I play the way I do as a striker now it is because of him."
The Dortmund striker has been in scintillating form this season, scoring a stunning 36 goals and 11 assists in 41 total appearances—that works out to a goal or assist for every 73 minutes Aubameyang is on the pitch. His three goals against Tottenham Hotspur were key in the last round.
And it’s almost certain that his contributions will again be key when Dortmund and Liverpool face off. If the Reds can find a way to stop him—or at the very least to slow him down—they might have a chance. Fail to do so and the tie might be decided within the first half of the first leg.