Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz has said he feels growing pressure amid a poor run of form but remains confident of turning things around.
BVB have dropped from first to third in the Bundesliga and all but crashed out of the Champions League during a turbulent seven-game run, with Bosz coming under fire for his high defensive line.
Failure to take three points at Stuttgart on Friday would add to the tension of a derby against fierce rivals Schalke in their next fixture.
And former Ajax coach Bosz told a news conference: “You can feel that the pressure has grown in the past weeks.
“I am convinced that we will find our way back on track.”
Bosz backed striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to end a barren run at Stuttgart, adding that he had scored “a lot of goals in training.”
Concerns have been raised over Dortmund’s fitness levels in recent weeks, with German football magazine kicker revealing that 10 Bundesliga teams currently made more high-intensity runs than Dortmund.
While all BVB players reached a top speed of at least 31 kilometres per hour under Thomas Tuchel last season, some have not broken the 30 kmph mark this term.
The magazine also reported a decline in overall running stats, passing accuracy and possession, claiming these could indicate a drop in fitness levels.
But captain Marcel Schmelzer defended Bosz amid claims that one training session per day in preseason might not have been enough.
He said: “You can train twice a day, or just once and more intense. That’s the case under Bosz. In preseason, players felt like [they had been] training twice a day after just one training session under him.”
Meanwhile, keeper Roman Burki has told Sport1 he does not fear he could lose his place amid rumours that a replacement could arrive in January.
“I don’t read the paper, I rarely watch TV. The folks there are not experts, but only people who happened to be good footballers or at least believe that they were,” Burki said of his critics.
“If a current or former keeper judges me, I will listen. That person knows what he’s on about. But other that, I just can’t take it seriously.
“If the important people here [at Dortmund], those in charge and to whom I listen, would want to make changes, they’d come to me and tell me about it. But that’s not the case.”
Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld.