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BARCELONA — Borussia Dortmund coach Lucien Favre said he left Jadon Sancho on the bench against Barcelona on Wednesday because he wanted players who “were focused.”
Sancho, 19, came on as a substitute at half-time at Camp Nou and scored a late consolation as Dortmund lost 3-1 to leave their progression in the Champions League hanging in the balance. They need to better Inter Milan’s result against Barca in their final group game against Slavia Prague to reach the last 16.
Favre picked a defensive side against Barcelona, with four full-backs included in the starting lineup. However, with his side 2-0 down at the break, he turned to Sancho, who started all four European matches this season and scored and assisted in Friday’s draw against Paderborn.
The England international had a positive effect on his side’s performance, scoring from the edge of the box in the 77th minute and hitting the bar five minutes later. Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann earlier helped the home team to a three-goal lead.
“I explained to him [why he wasn’t starting] before the game,” Favre said in his postgame news conference. “I told him it was a really difficult game here in Barcelona, and we needed players that were really focused and that went on to the pitch really focused.”
Sancho, who came second to Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix in the 2019 Golden Boy award this week, told reporters he was “not allowed to speak” when he passed through the mixed zone after the match.
The forward has been strongly linked with a move away from the German club next summer, with a host of European clubs all credited with an interest in him. Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barca have all been linked.
He joined Dortmund from Manchester City in 2017 and has scored 20 goals in 73 appearances for the club’s first team. His performances in Germany have seen him catapulted to the England setup, too, in which he has scored twice in 11 caps.