Berlin (AFP) – Borussia Dortmund face the difficult challenge of recovering from Tuesday’s frightening bomb attack on their team bus as they prepare to host Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga this weekend.
Players and staff alike were badly shaken after their team coach was rocked by three explosions on the way to Signal Iduna Park ahead of their Champions League tie against Monaco.
Defender Marc Bartra underwent emergency surgery on a fractured wrist and to remove glass that became planted in his arm after the blast shattered windows on the Dortmund bus.
His team-mates also felt the psychological effects, losing 3-2 to Monaco after their quarter-final first leg was pushed back to Wednesday.
Many in the Dortmund squad said they had not wanted to play, while manager Thomas Tuchel railed at the decision to reschedule the match less than 24 hours after the planned kick-off.
“Unless you experienced it, you can’t understand how bad it was for us,” said defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
“I am just happy to be alive, it was the worst day of my life,” he added, referring to the night of the attack.
Tuchel accused UEFA of treating Dortmund as if only a “beer can” had been thrown at their bus.
But European football’s governing body rejected the claim, insisting that both clubs had agreed to play on Wednesday.
German police are still hunting the culprits and an officer was also hurt in the blast.
Tuchel is sure to rotate his fourth-placed squad to try to help give those worst affected by the attack time to recover.
“We must find a way of overcoming that. But we still don’t know how that’s going to happen,” admitted Tuchel.
“Everyone must face up to it in their own way. No one felt it in exactly the same way.
“Some players saw the explosion… there were lots of different feelings and therefore many different ways of handling the trauma.”
– Reus to return, Lewandowski banned –
Germany winger Marco Reus, sidelined for the past six weeks by a hamstring injury, is set to return for Dortmund but Bartra faces four weeks out.
Frankfurt were quick to extend their best wishes to the Spaniard, but solidarity aside, Niko Kovac’s men need the points on Saturday having dropped to ninth following a run of nine games without a win.
As a result of the Dortmund attack, authorities are beefing up security across the country ahead of this weekend’s fixtures.
Runaway league leaders Bayern Munich, who are at Bayer Leverkusen, have for the first time introduced security checks at open training sessions.
Bayern are 10 points clear of RB Leipzig but will again be without striker Robert Lewandowski, this time through suspension after he picked up his fifth yellow card last weekend.
The Poland star is the league’s top scorer with 26 goals but missed Bayern’s 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League with a bruised shoulder.
Carlo Ancelotti will hope to have both Lewandowski and Mats Hummels (ankle) back in time for Tuesday’s quarter-final return leg in Madrid.
Leverkusen are desperately looking to stop their slide down the table after just one win in their last seven league games.
Second-placed RB Leipzig are edging ever closer to finishing their debut Bundesliga season by qualifying directly for the Champions League but have a tricky trip to Freiburg.
Freiburg, last season’s second division champions ahead of Leipzig, have exceded expectations this term by challenging for a Europa League place.
Ex-Bayern striker Nils Petersen equalled the Bundesliga record of 18 goals off the bench when he came on to secure their 1-0 win over Mainz last weekend.
Fixtures (all times 1330 GMT unless stated)
Borussia Dortmund v Eintracht Frankfurt, Mainz v Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg v Ingolstadt, Augsburg v Cologne, Hoffenheim v Borussia Moenchengladbach, RB Leipzig v Freiburg, Bayer Leverkusen v Bayern Munich (1630)
Werder Bremen v Hamburg, Darmstadt v Schalke (1530)