Kagawa: Dortmund must keep improving
Borussia Dortmund host resurgent Stuttgart on Friday night with Japan star Shinji Kagawa insisting the German league leaders still have room for improvement, despite their drubbing of Cologne.
Kagawa netted twice and ripped the Cologne defence to pieces last Sunday as Dortmund scored five second-half goals without reply to maintain their five-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga table.
With 11 goals in 24 games this season, Kagawa has been outstanding and has slotted into the chief playmaker role with Germany teenage star Mario Goetze, who has extended his contract until 2016, currently out with a groin injury.
The title race looks set to be settled in just over a fortnight when Dortmund host second-placed Bayern Munich at their Signal Iduna Park stadium on 11 April, but Kagawa says his team can improve despite routing Cologne.
"We played really good football in the second half against Cologne, but before the break we were missing some concentration and we weren't moving as well as we normally do," said Kagawa. "These are the sort of things we have to work on still."
Stuttgart will not be an easy test for the defending champions and Bruno Labbadia's team have clawed their way up the league table to challenge for a European place for next season.
They are currently seventh in the league and undefeated in their last five games with their top-scorer Austria striker Martin Harnik having scored 14 goals in 27 league games this season.
A late goal from Germany's Brazil-born striker Cacau last Sunday gave Stuttgart a 1-0 win over Nuremberg and the guests will test the Dortmund defence with coach Jurgen Klopp saying results are all that counts now.
"In Cologne, we played the type of football in the second half which we had been missing," he said. "We are in the final sprint and must keep up the rhythm. We won't be apologising for any 1-0 wins."
Dortmund fans are clamouring for tickets to see their heroes: 160,000 have applied for the final home league game against Freiburg on 5 May with capacity at 80,720, while 230,000 have applied to see the German Cup final against Bayern on 12 May.
With just seven games left this season, teams near the bottom of the table tend to pull off some impressive results at this point of the season and Bayern need beware of Saturday's visit to Nuremberg.
Nuremberg are 11th, but only four points from the relegation zone and Bayern, who were at Marseille on Wednesday in the UEFA Champions League, will need to recover quickly from their trip to France to get a result.
Having moved up into third last weekend, Schalke, who are still involved in the UEFA Europa League, are at Hoffenheim on Sunday evening.
Fourth-placed Borussia Moenchengladbach badly need a win at Hannover on Sunday afternoon to boost flagging confidence.
Lucien Favre's team appear to be running out of steam with the end of the season looming having had just one win in their last six league games.
A fourth place finish in the Bundesliga means a qualification match to go into the Champions League group stages, but with an 11-point gap between Gladbach and Leverkusen in fifth, Favre's team are almost sure to finish in the top four.
German Bundesliga fixtures
Borussia Dortmund v VfB Stuttgart
Nuremberg v Bayern Munich
Kaiserslautern v Hamburg
Werder Bremen v Mainz 05
Bayer Leverkusen v Freiburg
Augsburg v Cologne
Hertha Berlin v VfL Wolfsburg
Hannover 96 v Borussia M'gladbach
Hoffenheim v Schalke 04