Tottenham will clash against German league leaders Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Wednesday night.
Tottenham Hotspur are set to go head to head against Bundesliga heavyweights Borussia Dortmund at the Wembley Stadium on Wednesday, as the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League kick off.
Tottenham just about managed to qualify to the knockout phases, making it through from a difficult group that also comprised of the likes of Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven. Mauricio Pochettino’s side come into the big game on the back of three consecutive wins against Watford, Newcastle United and Leicester City and will be eager to carry that momentum forward in Europe.
Borussia Dortmund, on the other hand, finished as the leaders of Group A ahead of Atletico Madrid owing to a superior goal difference. Lucien Favre’s side have been in scintillating form in the Bundesliga, as they sit comfortably at the top of the table, but have failed to register wins in their last three matches in all competitions. They will be hoping to end that streak against Spurs at Wembley.
The two sides have met on four occasions previously in Europe, sharing two victories each. And ahead of Wednesday’s blockbuster clash, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both the teams;
Team News & Tactics
Tottenham have been boosted by the return of midfielder Eric Dier and Erik Lamela after the pair missed the weekend clash against Leicester with a virus and a back problem respectively. Danny Rose will not be able to start, after picking up a shin wound at the weekend, while, Ben Davies, Dele Alli and Harry Kane remain sidelined.
Club captain Hugo Lloris is the undisputed starter between the sticks for Spurs, who are likely to go in with a four-man defence comprising of Kieran Trippier, Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen at left-back in the absence of Rose and Davies.
The returning Dier is likely to walk back into the starting XI at the base of the midfield and will look to shield his backline from the Dortmund midfielders. He will be supported by the energetic Moussa Sissoko and academy graduate Harry Winks. Danish playmaker Christian Eriksen will slot in as the No.10 for the North London outfit and will be in-charge of providing the creative influence.
Son Heung-min was sensational once again at the weekend against Leicester and should feature in attack on Wednesday. With Kane ruled out, the South Korean is most likely to be partnered by Fernando Llorente, with Lucas Moura and Lamela providing options from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Sanchez, Vertonghen; Sissoko, Dier, Winks; Eriksen; Llorente, Son;
The German league leaders have been dealt with major injury blows as Marco Reus (thigh), Paco Alcacer (shoulder), Lukas Piszczek (foot) and Julian Weigl (flu) have all been ruled out of the tie at Wembley. Manuel Akanji has travelled with the squad, but is a major doubt, but Dan-Axel Zagadou is in line to return to action for Dortmund.
Roman Burki is the obvious choice between the sticks for Favre’s side, but there will be a number of tweaks in defence. Piszczek’s injury means Achraf Hakimi will move to the right-back slot, while Abdou Diallo will move into the heart of the defence to partner Omer Toprak in the absence of Weigl. Marcel Schmelzer should get the nod as the left-back.
The two-man midfield axis will be continue to be occupied by Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney, with the duo establishing a solid and stable partnership. They will look to cut out the influence of Christian Eriksen, while also starting out attacks from deep.
Teenage sensation Jadon Sancho is one of the first names on Favre’s teamsheet. He will start out on the right flank, while Raphael Guerreiro is set to get the nod on the left-hand side. In Reus’ absence, the creative burden will likely fall upon the shoulders of Maximilian Philipp in the No.10 role, with Mario Gotze set to lead the line.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Toprak, Diallo, Schmelzer; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Philipp, Guerreiro; Gotze;
- Tottenham and Dortmund are facing each other for the third time in the last four seasons in European competition. Their head-to-head record is balanced, with two wins each.
- Tottenham won their two previous encounters with Dortmund in the Champions League; this came in last season’s group stages (3-1 at Wembley, 2-1 at the Signal Iduna Park).
- Borussia Dortmund boast the best defensive record in the Champions League this season with just two goals conceded and five clean sheets from their six group games.
- Among the 16 remaining teams in the Champions League, Tottenham were the only side to post a negative goal difference in this season’s group stages (-1).
- No team has scored more goals in the last 15 minutes of Champions League games this season than Borussia Dortmund (five). Their bench has also been the most clinical with five goals coming from substitutes.
Player to watch
Since moving to Germany back in the summer of 2017, Jadon Sancho has only gone from strength to strength, establishing himself as one of the finest young talents in the game currently. The 18-year-old has been absolutely prolific in the Bundesliga, scoring 7 goals and setting up 11 more in 21 matches, acting as one of the chief driving forces behind Dortmund’s title charge.
Sancho has caught the eye on the continental stages as well, despite coming up with returns of just a solitary goal and assist apiece in five matches. The winger, with his pace, trickery and the ability to conjure up something special out of nothing, will be absolutely crucial for Dortmund if they are to come out on top at Wembley.
Going up against Jan Vertonghen, who is not exactly known for his speed, the 18-year-old could prove to be a handful for Tottenham on Wednesday night.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Borussia Dortmund
Tottenham come into the midweek encounter on the back of three victories in a row. While they registered a win against Leicester at the weekend, the result could have been so much different if the Foxes had taken their chances on the day.
Dortmund, on the other hand, have failed to register a win in three back-to-back matches in all competitions and yielded a three-goal advantage to draw 3-3 against Hoffenheim in the league this past weekend.
Both teams go into the game without a number of key players, but Tottenham have a sense of vulnerability in their defence, more so considering that they will be forced to play Vertonghen at left-back against the speedy Sancho. It promises to be an enticing affair between two attack-minded teams, which is likely to end with spoils shared.