Borussia Dortmund drew 2-2 at rivals Schalke on Sunday, ahead of their Europa League quarter-final second-leg clash with Liverpool.
Even though Dortmund’s admittedly slim title hopes were still alive going into the match – they trailed Bayern Munich by eight points with a game in hand – manager Thomas Tuchel showed where his priorities lie.
The German made eight changes to the side that faced the Reds at Signal Iduna Park, with Marco Reus, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the most notable absentees.
It proves just how much the Europa League means to Dortmund this season, and Liverpool will have to be at their very best to overcome them on Thursday.
It was a somewhat controversial decision by Tuchel, however, considering Schalke are BVB’s local rivals. Imagine Klopp leaving out eight players for a trip to Everton!
After a goalless opening 45 minutes, Tuchel’s men took the lead early in the second-half, through a piece of individual brilliance.
Shinji Kagawa, who failed spectacularly in a Man United shirt, scored a delightful chip from the edge of the penalty area to send the travelling supporters wild.
Reported Liverpool transfer target Leroy Sane levelled matters just two minutes later, however, finishing well with a low shot.
Mattias Ginter put Dortmund back ahead after 56 minutes, but in a game where only three points would do for the visitors, they failed to hold their lead for a second time.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar’s penalty midway through the second-half, after the Dutchman was brought down by Sokratis, earned Schalke a point at Veltins-Arena.
It is a result that surely ends Dortmund’s Bundesliga title hopes for another year, and all their focus now turns to Liverpool on Thursday.
The Anfield showdown promises to be one of the Reds’ biggest games of recent years, with a semi-final place in Europe up for grabs.
LIVERPOOL 4-1 STOKE