Henrikh Mkhitaryan: I still haven’t hit top gear

After opening his European account as a BVB player, Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan spoke to about the grueling Group F encounter, his admiration for match winner Robert Lewandowki and the upcoming Revierderby with Ruhr rivals FC Schalke 04. Mr Mkhitaryan, what did you make of the win in London?

Mkhitaryan: It was a really tough and important game for us. Playing away against such a strong side wasn’t easy, but we dug in as a team and delivered a great performance. Of course, the result is really good for us. Describe your opening goal…

Mkhitaryan: I collected [Robert] Lewandowski’s short pass. Then I noticed I had lots of space on the edge of the box. I controlled the ball and had a pop at goal. It was your first Champions League goal for BVB. It must feel twice as good, right?

Mkhitaryan: It’s not important for me to be able to celebrate my goal come the final whistle. What’s important is that I put in a reasonable performance on the pitch. My aim is to get better with every game because I still haven’t hit top gear. Is there a difference when head coach Jürgen Klopp is in the stands and his assistant Zeljko Buvac is in the dugout?

Mkhitaryan: We don’t have any problems with that whatsoever. Both speak the same language. It’s a bit unusual if the coach isn’t on the sideline, but it’s good for us players when we can feel his presence in the stadium. We’re a big family and everyone knows what they have to do. Dortmund weren’t able to string much together going forward. Yet in the second half, BVB scored with their only shot on goal…

Mkhitaryan: Yes, that’s what decides these sorts of games. Sometimes there are just one or two moments like that and you have to be there to make use of your opponents’ mistakes. That’s football. For that to happen, teams need players like Robert Lewandowski…

Mkhitaryan: He is simply magnificent. He was the best against Arsenal. How he ran, fought and coolly finished for 2-1 was indescribable. For me, he is one of the best strikers in the world. Napoli, Arsenal and Dortmund are all on six points in the group. When do you think we’ll know who’s going to progress?

Mkhitaryan: I think the group will be decided on the final matchday. We have to raise our game for the next three matches and play better football. We have to hope we’ll pick up a couple more points. The next game is on Saturday against Schalke. Do you know the significance of the derby?

Mkhitaryan: I was told pretty early what the clash means for the team and the city as a whole. I’m really excited about the game. It’s more than a derby. Victory over Arsenal was the perfect motivator, right?

Mkhitaryan: Yes, for sure. It’s always easy to regenerate after wins, especially mentally. That’ll help us for the derby.

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