A budding rivalry is renewed on Wednesday night in the Champions League when Tottenham welcome Borussia Dortmund to Wembley for a clash of two young, high octane attacking sides.
Wembley Stadium, Wembley, England
Key Stat: Tottenham are looking to make it out of the round of 16 for the first time since 2010/11. They've kept getting here, but can they finally get themselves over the hump and into the quarters?
Expert Verdict: This is quite a tough one to call. Both sides are doing well in their divisions, with both challenging so-called 'bigger' clubs for titles currently. Dortmund are closer to winning theirs than Spurs, but this still looks to be quite a close one. It's going to come down to who capitalizes on their chances the best, and with Harry Kane and others out, you have to back the German side to take their chances a little bit better. They might not win the first leg, but they make a good start to the tie.
Mauricio Pochettino will be missing two of his most important players for this tie. Striker Harry Kane, on which so much goes through, and attacking midfielder Dele Alli are both scratches for this first leg. Left back Ben Davies and midfielder Eric Dier have also been dealing with problems, so they look doubts to feature as well, at least from the start in London.
With Kane and Alli out, a lot of pressure has been piled upon the back of Son for Spurs. The South Korean, though, has been extremely consistent all season long for them, scoring big goals in all competitions, save this one. His presence will be huge both in front of goal and in the build up to give them the cutting edge they desperately crave. Another man that can provide the cutting edge is Christian Eriksen. The Real Madrid target can influence the game from either set pieces or from deep in midfield with controlled balls over the top. He’ll be needed at his best to give his side a first leg advantage.
Spurs have three wins and two losses in their last five matches:
3-1 home win vs Leicester
1-0 home win vs Newcastle
2-1 home win vs Watford
2-0 loss at Crystal Palace (FA Cup)
2-1 loss, penalty loss at Chelsea (EFL Cup)
Defenders:Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Rose
Midfielders:Sissoko, Wanyama, Winks, Eriksen
Lucien Favre will be unable to call upon center backs Manuel Akanji and Leonardo Balerdi, as well as his influential attacking midfielder Marco Reus for this crucial away clash. Reus hasn’t been ruled out officially, but it sounds like he will be left out of this first leg, putting the impetus on someone else to do the damage. Right back Lukasz Piszczek has a bit of a heel issue, but he looks much more likely to play than the others.
That someone else could be Jadon Sancho. The Englishman has become a star in Germany this season and has made his way to the national team as a result. He scored his seventh goal of the season at the weekend in Bundesliga play and also has nine assists in it, though he has yet to play his finest in Europe. Raphael Guerreiro has been their big star in the UCL so far. The versatile left-sided Portuguese has scored four goals, the only man to have more than one, in the competition so far, and he will be seen as someone that can help put Spurs under pressure.
BVB have three draws and two wins in their last five matches:
3-3 home draw vs Hoffenheim
3-3 home draw, penalty loss vs Werder Bremen (DFB Pokal)
1-1 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt
5-1 home win vs Hannover
0-1 win at RB Leipzig
Defenders:Piszczek, Weigl, Diallo, Hakimi
Defensive Midfielders:Delaney, Witsel
Attacking Midfielders:Sancho, Gotze, Guerreiro
Spurs have faced Borussia Dortmund just four times before, but all of those clashes have been recently. They met in the 2015-16 Europa League Round of 16, and Dortmund won 5-1 on aggregate. They then met in the group stages the following season. Spurs would win both matches, 3-1 at home and 1-2 away, to win the group as Dortmund were sent packing to the Europa League.
Bet365 have the following odds available for this match:
Tottenham are at 13/10 to win, a draw is at 5/2, and a Borussia Dortmund win is at 19/10.
Tottenham come into this match in third place in the Premier League at the moment, and according to some people, they are still just about in the title race. This has been, statistically speaking, their best ever Prem campaign, yet many are all over Pochettino’s back for not doing well enough. They’re doing incredibly well, especially considering that they have little money to spend and a stadium that is still yet to be finished. Their Champions League Group B didn’t go exactly as they planned, but they still made it through in the end by the skin of their teeth. Eight points was enough to finish ahead of Inter Milan as they took second behind Barcelona in order to give themselves a chance in the knockout rounds.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, come into this fixture in control of the German Bundesliga currently despite a late three-goal collapse on Saturday. They have dropped very few points there and have a comfortable advantage over Bayern Munich still, giving them a great chance to win the title with Lucien Favre in just his first season. The former Nice manager has made them tougher to play against in general, all while remaining able to score the goals and trouble defences, making for a very nice balance and a real, viable title contender. Their Group A showing was very good, taking 13 points and outlasting Atletico Madrid on goal difference to seal top spot. Unfortunately for them, they drew Spurs, which isn’t the easiest of all draws to be sure.
At home, Tottenham have 11 wins, a draw that turned into a penalty win, and five losses so far this season. The majority of those losses, save theirs to Wolves, have come against teams that are also in the Champions League, so that shows that they are vulnerable to those sort of teams, giving Dortmund more than a puncher’s chance to make a dent in their European dreams. Speaking of the Germans, they have nine wins, three draws, and two losses away from home so far this season. One of the losses was at Atletico and the other was to Fortuna Dusseldorf right before the Christmas break. In two of their last three outings, they have dropped points away from home, so they are looking a little beatable for sure.
Both teams to score, via Ladbrokes, is at 4/6.
Betfair have Son scoring anytime at 2.2.
Borussia Dortmund don’t have to win here in order for it to be a major success. They’d like to, no doubt, but a score draw would be fantastic for them. That’s what occurs in London as they take back a precious away goal.