The Champions League returns tonight as Spurs host Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the first knockout round at Wembley. After picking up just one point from their first three group stages matches, it seemed very unlikely that Spurs would even make it to this stage of the competition.
Spurs were joint bottom of their group which contained PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan and Barcelona but managed to progress by the slimmest of margins. Narrow wins versus PSV and Inter Milan at Wembley gave them a glimmer of hope going into the final group stage match with Barcelona at Camp Nou, which Spurs drew 1-1. That result was deserved and demonstrated a resilience that characterises Spurs under Mauricio Pochettino.
Despite being knocked out of both domestic cups inside a week, Spurs have been keeping up the pace in the Premier League and have won their last four games. The fact that they have done this with injuries to a number of key players means that they will be confident in beating a Dortmund side that have injuries of their own to contend with.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 13, 2019
Lucien Favre’s Borussia Dortmund have been one of the most impressive teams in Europe so far this season. The young and energetic side are five points clear at the top of the Bundesliga and have impressed many pundits who have watched them closely in Germany and in the Champions League. Dortmund topped Group A which also contained Atletico Madrid, AS Moncao and Club Brugge.
However, they are not without their weaknesses. Dortmund are currently on a three match winless run and were knocked out of the German Cup by Werder Bremen. On Saturday they surrendered a 3-0 lead at home to Hoffenheim and ended up drawing 3-3. Spurs will be wary of Dortmund’s response to such a disappointing result but at the same time will know the cracks are there and will be aiming to exploit that.
Spurs v Borussia Dortmund Team News
After missing the Premier League match with Leicester on Sunday, Eric Dier and Erik Lamela will both return for Spurs against Borussia Dortmund. Danny Rose picked up a shin injury in that match and is a major doubt for the Dormtund tie, with Pochettino confirming that if he is to play any part then it will be from the bench.
Spurs are also without Ben Davies, Harry Kane and Dele Alli who are all continuing their rehabilitation. The club will be hoping that all three will return in time for the second leg in March.
For the visitors, Lucien Favre also has injuries to key players to contend with. Top goalscorers Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer are unavailable through injury along with German international Julian Weigl and first choice right back Lukasz Piszczek. Young winger Christian Pulisic is joining Chelsea in the summer and is likely to start on the wing with Jadon Sancho on the other side.
Spurs v Dortmund Champions League Predicted Team
With Pochettino confirming that Danny Rose will not start the game and with Ben Davies already ruled out, one of Jan Vertonghen, Kyle Walker Peters or Serge Aurier will come in at left back. We think he will choose to go with Vertonghen at left back, with Alderweireld and Sanchez as the central pairing. However Pochettino has shown that he is confident in all of his players by giving Walker-Peters a start at right back in the crucial group stage match versus Barcelona.
Kieran Trippier is expected to start ahead of Aurier, even though he played the full ninety minutes against Leicester on Sunday. In front of him the side may be very similar to the one that started a few days ago. We think the only change will be Oliver Skipp dropping to the bench with Lucas Moura coming in. This would mean that, rather than a midfield diamond, Spurs could go with a 4-2-3-1 formation.
However, if Pochettino decides to continue with a midfield diamond then Eric Dier may come straight into the starting lineup at the base.
Moussa Sissoko, Harry Winks and Christian Eriksen will all maintain their places no matter what the formation as will Heung-min Son. It will be interesting to see if Pochettino keeps his faith in Fernando Llorente, who has seen an extended run in the side with the absence of Harry Kane, or whether he chooses to utilise Son or Moura as a striker.
Another player that could be pushing for a spot in the starting eleven is Erik Lamela after returning from injury.
— Moussa Sissoko (@MoussaSissoko) February 12, 2019
Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino
“To play in the Champions League with Tottenham is a massive bonus. To play in the Champions League three years in a row, competing with big sides, like how we’re competing in the last four years in the Premier League to qualify another year for the Champions League is a massive bonus. No-one expected us five years ago to be in that position. We’re going to try to win and be in the next stage of the Champions League but of course that is a bonus.”
“It’s not only in the last four games. The other day I saw on TV that from the beginning of December we’re the best team in the Premier League. That talked very highly about the squad, the players and they fully deserve all the credit. We’re doing a fantastic job, the players are giving their best in difficult circumstances and I am so proud to be in front of these players.”
“I believe we can win everything we play in. We know very well that the competition is going to be tough. We are going to face a team that is top of the table in the Bundesliga, is doing well and is a really competitive team. And of course it is going to be tough. But with all respect to our opponent, I am a person who always believes we can beat any team.” (football.london)
Spurs v Borussia Dortmund One to Watch
The headlines are set for Jadon Sancho on his return to London. The English winger grew up in South London and joined Dortmund in 2017 from the Manchester City academy and has not looked back since.
Sancho has been in blistering form for Dortmund this season and is their third top scorer in all competitions, behind the injured duo of Reus and Alcacer. Whether on the left or the right, he has shown so far this campaign that he can have a devastating impact on matches. Given his rise to stardom it is easy to forget he is still only eighteen years of age.
Jadon Sancho on growing up in South London…
His attitude is as good as his ability! 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/MvwwIMMX2O
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) February 12, 2019
Spurs v Borussia Dortmund Champions League Referee
Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz will be the man in the middle at Wembley. He is one of the leading officials in Spain and was referee for the Copa del Rey clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid last week.
In the three Champions League matches he has officiated in this season, all have finished 2-0. One of those games was Red Star Belgrade’s surprise victory over Liverpool. He has also refereed Spurs in the Champions League before in their 1-0 group stage win away against CSKA Moscow in 2016.
Spurs v Borussia Dortmund Champions League Prediction
Spurs have been coping well without Alli and Kane in the Premier League but they will know that Dortmund will be a much tougher opponent on Wednesday. Having said that, Dortmund are probably on their worst run of the season after being knocked out of the cup and surrendering a 3-0 lead at the weekend. That, coupled with the fact Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer will be out injured, means that we think Spurs will have enough to take a lead into the second leg.
Our prediction is Spurs 2-0.
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