EXCLUSIVE: Double Champions League winner Paulo Sousa tells Goal his former club will struggle to fill the void left by the impending departures of two marquee players
By Peter Staunton
Paulo Sousa, a Champions League winner with Borussia Dortmund, fears that Saturday's final against Bayern Munich may be the last time Jurgen Klopp's side take the European stage in the near future.
Mario Gotze, who misses the Wembley final through injury, has already agreed to join Bayern after they met the release clause stipulated in his contract while Robert Lewandowski's future remains up for discussion.
Should Dortmund end up losing both, Sousa believes that his former club would struggle to remain competitive.
"It's difficult to take another step when you lose two important players," he told Goal. "If you lose the second one, Lewandowski, because Gotze is practically gone, it will be important to reduce expectations and to build it up again because they are two important pieces of the puzzle."
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"For them it's like they feel the player doesn't have respect for them," he said. "But I think the ones that love the club have already passed different difficult moments and they will always back the club.
"After we won the Champions League in '97, and all the economical problems that followed, the fans were always very close to the club and helped support the club to progress."
Dortmund under Klopp have claimed two Bundesliga titles as well as DFB-Pokal success and Sousa believes the psychological tools used by the coach have been key to their revival on the continental scene.
"He is someone who inspires everyone around him; someone really ambitious," he said. "He motivates a lot because he, and Michael Zorc the football director who won the Champions League with me in '97, are people who planned to achieve the possibility to win the Champions League again."
Despite going into the tie as underdogs, Sousa thinks that the occasion could inspire Dortmund to win the title against the odds like they did against his former club Juventus in 1997.
"History, we make ourselves," he said. "I think this team is quite strong. It has lots of quality in all the sectors of the pitch. They could write a new page of the history of football and the history of Dortmund."