Former Borussia Dortmund Champions League-winning coach Michael Hanke believes it is a good time for Rangers to come to town.
But he also believes that unless Giovanni van Bronkourst’s players are at their potential, they too can be out of it.
Dortmund is where Hanke spent the most special season of his football career, culminating in the 1997 game against Juventus in Munich to win the club’s most prestigious award.
But the 64-year-old – who was No. 2 at the legendary Otmar Hitzfield in Bayern Munich where he repeated the Champions League victory – Marco Rose’s team feels a ‘lack of leaders’ and is very contradictory.
Dortmund are currently second in the Bundesliga, six points behind Byron’s leaders, but have lost in recent weeks by less light than St. Pauli and Hertha Berlin.
On Sunday, they beat Union Berlin 3-0 but before that they lost 5-2 at home to Bayer Leverkusen.
He also has serious fitness concerns about superstar striker Earling Holland, who is struggling to make the first leg.
But Hanke insists Dortmund still have talented youngsters like England’s Jude Bellingham and that if they click at night, it could be a difficult change for Gers in Germany.
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Hanke said SunsportDortmund have a problem with consistency. They sometimes have great games, but then they also have problems against smaller teams.
“I’m not sure they have enough leaders in the team.
“Only Mattis Hummels is here, while Marco Reus was strong in the last game.
“Reeves is a great footballer but he’s not usually as strong as a leader.
“If the game is not going well, then there is no player who will bring spirit to the team.
So I think that’s the problem for Dortmund – they don’t have enough leaders in the team.
“They have a lot of talented young players who are of high quality, but if there are problems in a game, there are not enough leaders on the pitch.
“In Bayern Munich, they have three, four or five leaders.
“I’m sure it’s a good time for the Rangers to play in Dortmund. So they have a chance.
But I would also say that this is a special game for Borussia Dortmund and that fact can make them very dangerous.
“This type of game can ensure that their best players are very focused on beating the Rangers.
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“It’s a threat to the Scottish team.
“Dortmund haven’t focused on every game this season, but I don’t think it’s a matter of Thursday night.
“They know the Rangers are a good team and a big name.
“At the moment, I’m sure the Rangers still have a chance against Dortmund because they are not consistent.
“But I expect the Dortmund players to be very focused on this game.”
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With a capacity of 81,000 for the Domestic Games, Dortmund’s formidable West Fallen Stadium, Hanke’s spine trembles whenever it comes to match nights.
“The environment can be conducive for the Rangers,” he said.
“It’s a great stadium. For me, it’s the best in Europe.
“Now more people can come back to the matches and if it is almost full it will be a great atmosphere. Supporters are a big force for Dortmund, but the Rangers know it well. Old Firm Derby also has many fans.
“I saw their recent defeat at Celtic and the atmosphere seemed incredible.
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“Dortmund must have learned a lot from this game.
“As for the Rangers, they usually have no chance against Dortmund.
“I’ll see for sure if Dortmund are focused and motivated, but we’ll see.”
The absence of the Netherlands could have a big impact on the tie.
Hanke added: “It is true he is injured and it is still Dortmund’s hope he will play.
“I don’t think they will be 100 per cent fit if they do, and that’s the problem for them.
“He is such an important player for Dortmund. I think the Netherlands has 30 or 40% of the team.
“If he can’t make the game, it will be bad news for Dortmund.”
Hanke admitted that he had memories of the Champions League group stage matches between Dortmund and Rangers during the 1995-96 season, which ended in a 2-2 draw.
He said: “Those were great opportunities. I especially remember the game at Ibrox. There was a great atmosphere, very impressive. The Rangers put on a great show.
“I’m very interested to see how they play on Thursday night.”
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