Borussia Dortmund will have it all to do in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg when they host Tottenham Hotspur at Signal Iduna Park.
The UEFA Champions League resumes this week with the second leg fixtures of the Round of 16. One of the ties that has been rather one-sided so far will be completed on Tuesday, when Borussia Dortmund welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Westfalenstadion, hoping to come back from three goals down to reach the quarter-finals.
Borussia Dortmund qualified for the Round of 16 by topping Group A ahead of Atletico Madrid, while Tottenham made it to the knockout stages on the very last matchday of the group stage, finishing second behind Barcelona in Group B.
Dortmund though, have seen their form tail off dramatically in recent weeks, having managed to win just one of their last seven games (D4 L2). The latest setback came in the form of a 2-1 loss at the hands of FC Augsburg, which has seen their lead atop the Bundesliga table being reduced to zero points.
Tottenham too, have suffered a dip in form lately, having failed to win each of their last three matches, with the latest winless result saw Arsenal hold them to a 1-1 draw. The short run of poor results has seen them go from possible Premier League title contenders to looking over their shoulders and bracing themselves for the top four battle.
The first leg, played at Wembley three weeks ago, saw Spurs coast to a 3-0 win, courtesy goals from Son Heung-min, Jan Vertonghen and Fernando Llorente. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the UEFA Champions League encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Lucien Favre does not have many pressing concerns hampering his preparations for the visit of Tottenham Hotspur. On Tuesday night, the Borussia Dortmund manager is only likely to be without three first-team players in the worst case scenario.
While Lukasz Piszczek is a certain absentee due to a foot injury, Marcel Schmelzer (foot) and Christian Pulisic (hamstring) remain major doubts and could miss out as well, meaning Pulisic may have played his last Champions League game for Dortmund ahead of permanently joining Chelsea in the summer. But, Favre has enough cover in his squad to compensate for the possible absence of all three players.
In Piszczek’s absence, Real Madrid loanee Achraf Hakimi has stepped up well, and the young defender should be the right-back against Tottenham. Manuel Akanji and Dan Axel Zagadou are certain starters for the biggest of games and the duo should form the central defensive partnership, although both of them need to step up after recent lulls.
The backline is likely to be completed by Abdou Diallo, who will continue to play as a makeshift left-back – a role he has done quite well in. In the Borussia Dortmund goal, there is no looking past Roman Burki, who has been a solid presence between the sticks for the most part this season.
In the middle of the park, Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney will form the double pivot once again, but will need to step up, having gone through a dip in form lately. Up ahead in attack, Mario Gotze could lead the line once again for Dortmund, with Paco Alcacer being kept as a super sub.
The three men behind Gotze though, ought to be club captain Marco Reus, flanked by Jadon Sancho and Raphael Guerreiro. While Reus will aim to create overloads in the Tottenham box alongside Gotze, Sancho and Guerreiro will have the onus on them to create the bulk of the goalscoring opportunities.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Burki; Hakimi, Akanji, Zagadou, Diallo; Witsel, Delaney; Sancho, Reus, Guerreiro; Gotze
The results may have been far from ideal for Mauricio Pochettino lately, but there has only been good news coming his way as far as team news is concerned. Ahead of the trip to face Borussia Dortmund, the Tottenham boss can boast a clean bill of health, with no player left on the treatment table.
Dele Alli though, continues to miss out, having only returned to training recently upon recovering from a hamstring injury. But, Harry Winks (hip) and Eric Dier (tonsillitis) seem to be available for selection, with the duo travelling with the rest of the Spurs squad to Dortmund.
While Dier might only be fit enough to make the bench, Winks is likely to return to the starting lineup. The young midfielder’s ability to graft along will help Tottenham immensely, and Victor Wanyama should make way for him, with Moussa Sissoko set to keep his place in the middle of the park.
Meanwhile, Pochettino is likely to keep faith in the 3-4-1-2 system, with Davinson Sanchez, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen retaining their places in the Tottenham backline, while Hugo Lloris will continue in goal for the visitors.
Up ahead in attack, Christian Eriksen has looked a little jaded lately, but the bulk of the creative responsibilities will continue to remain on his able shoulders, while Son Heung-min and Harry Kane will need to be more clinical than they have been in recent games.
Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Lloris; Sanchez, Alderweireld, Vertonghen; Aurier, Winks, Sissoko, Davies; Eriksen; Son, Kane
- Tottenham have won their three previous encounters against Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League, twice in last season’s group stages (3-1 at Wembley, 2-1 at the Signal Iduna Park) and in this season’s Round of 16 first leg (3-0 at Wembley).
- Borussia Dortmund conceded more goals in the first leg against Tottenham (3) than they did in the entire group stages this season (2).
- Borussia Dortmund have lost 10 of their last 13 Champions League knockout games (W3), after losing only one of their previous 14 (W9 D4).
- Eleven of Tottenham’s 12 goals in the Champions League this season have come in the second half (92 per cent).
- Tottenham have scored in each of their last 17 Champions League games, their longest such run in the competition. Spurs have also only ever lost one game in the Champions League (out of 31 played) by more than two clear goals, against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in April 2011 (0-4).
Player to Watch
The first leg was one to forget for Borussia Dortmund, although it was indicative of the recent struggles that they have been going through. Die Schwarzgelben were severely lacking bite in attack, which was largely down to the absence of club captain Marco Reus, who is now available and has been back among the goals as well upon his return.
Lucien Favre will once again be counting on Reus to provide the inspirational touch in attack, especially with the likes of Paco Alcacer, Jacob Bruun Larsen and Mario Gotze being unable to consistently come up with the goods in the final third. A big game beckons for the German international.
Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur
Right from the moment the two sides were drawn against each other, the tie between Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur was looked at as potentially the most exciting contest in the Round of 16, largely due to their respective forms heading into the first leg encounter.
Since then, however, both teams have seen their fortunes and forms nosedive spectacularly, which only amps up the excitement surrounding the second leg due to the uncertainties involved. With Dortmund and Tottenham both showing frailties at the back, the match is unlikely to be short of goalmouth action.
In the end, however, it will be a case of so near yet so far for the hosts, with a three-goal deficit being too big to pull back, especially with Spurs expected to find the back of the net at least once. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-1 win for Borussia Dortmund, with the scoreline seeing Mauricio Pochettino & co. progress to the quarter-finals.