Borussia’s U19s need to win their final UEFA Youth League group game away to FC Copenhagen on Wednesday (kick-off at 16:00 CET) in order to finish in second place and qualify for the play-offs in February 2023.

“We’ve worked hard to get ourselves into this position and now have it in our own hands,” said head coach Mike Tullberg. Manchester City, who have 11 points, have already qualified for the last 16 as group winners; Copenhagen are currently second (seven points) and BVB are third (five points).

When referee Ondrej Berka blew his whistle a week ago to signal the half-time interval, the major objective of qualification seemed to have slipped beyond reach. Manchester City led by a 3-1 scoreline in Dortmund, with BVB having lost another key performer – Filippo Mane had sustained a broken nose – and the visitors from England having played some excellent football. “Almost everyone had written us off, but we believed in ourselves and promised ourselves in the dressing room that we would come back, which we did by drawing 3-3,” Tullberg explained.

After an autumn campaign characterised by setbacks, the U19s now face a winner-takes-all clash at the Österbro Stadium. “The 2-0 loss in the reverse fixture against Copenhagen was strongly influenced by the early red card for Silas Ostrzinski; we were then very unlucky to lose in stoppage time in Manchester after having led 2-1, and some unsavoury incidents play a major role in Seville,” said Mike Tullberg as he reflected upon the first half of the group stages.

But captain Nnamdi Collins & Co. stayed on track. They ground out a 1-1 stalemate in Seville, before winning the return fixture 2-0 thanks to a determined display, and then celebrated the 3-3 draw against Manchester City’s star-studded team like a “moral victory”. Tullberg had some words of praise for his players: “This team has special character. They might be lacking the individual quality that set us apart last year, but they make up for that with heart and passion.”

Huge respect for FC Copenhagen

They will need to surpass themselves once again in the Danish capital. “FC Copenhagen have big ambitions and are doing an outstanding job with young players. Their U19s are a really strong team, but we’ll do everything in our power to stay in the competition over the winter,” assured Mike Tullberg. Copenhagen played out a 0-0 draw in their home game against Manchester City, and demolished Sevilla 4-1 on home turf. They have picked up 21 out of a possible 24 points in their eight games to date in the Danish league and occupy second place behind FC Midtjylland.

BVB will again be able to call upon U23 players Silas Ostrzinski, Göktan Gürpüz and Lion Semic, who are increasingly settling into their stride. “They were lacking game time to begin with, but they’re now helping the team. I hope that they will also prove themselves in the 3. Liga soon,” commented Tullberg. There are still question marks hanging over Farouk Cisse, who sustained a foot injury in the Bundesliga match against Viktoria Cologne. Paris Brunner, who took part in the U17s’ 1-1 draw with Schalke, will return to the squad. (wiwi)