Tottenham Face Tough Opposition as They Host Borussia Dortmund
Wednesday sees group B runners-up Tottenham host group A winners Borussia Dortmund at Wembley. Lucien Favre’s team currently sit top of the Bundesliga, while Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs sit third in the Premier League. Set to face off in the Champions League round of 16, both sides enter with high ambitions and long injury lists.
Tottenham Host Tough Opposition in Borussia Dortmund
Expected to deploy either a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-1-2, Spurs face a formation dilemma. Using the 4-3-1-2 against Leicester City at the weekend, Pochettino has been forced to adapt due to injuries to key players. During the group stages, the Argentine went with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation on four occasions.
The team will be without striker Harry Kane and midfielder Dele Alli for the home leg. Both players are huge losses for Spurs. The English duo have combined to score 19 goals this season.
In their absence, the team will look to Heung-Min Son and Fernando Llorente to score the goals on Wednesday. Key players Hugo Lloris, Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen are all expected to start. Spurs will need these three to step-up if they want to come away with a positive result heading into the second leg.
Expected to deploy their usual 4-2-3-1, Borussia Dortmund enters the tie as favourites. Top of the Bundesliga, Lucien Favre’s team have been in fine form this season. However, in recent weeks the team has dropped points in the league and been dumped out of the DFB-Pokal on penalties.
Topping Group A, Dortmund is dealing with key injuries just like Spurs. Without captain Marco Reus and centre-back Manuel Akanji, Favre faces a tough task. In Reus’ absence, the team will likely take Mario Götze away from his usual false nine role and slot him into the No.10 role.
Dealing with Akanji’s injury is more complicated. In recent weeks, Favre has used holding midfielder Julian Weigl to fill the void left by the Swiss defender. Weigl must step up, or Dortmund faces a potential defensive disaster on Wednesday. In better news, key players Roman Bürki, Axel Witsel, Jadon Sancho and Paco Alcácer are all expected to play.
Key Injuries & Matchups
Wednesday will see Tottenham’s makeshift attack face Dortmund’s makeshift defence. Losing Kane and Alli, Spurs will likely start Llorente, Son or Lucas Moura on the night. Dortmund, on the other hand, will be forced to play a midfielder in their back four. Which team adapts better on the night will be key.
The battle of the midfield will play a big role. Spurs are expected to start Moussa Sissoko and Harry Winks in midfield, just behind Eriksen. Key to their success, Tottenham’s midfield faces one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Belgium’s Axel Witsel is having the best season of his distinguished career. Alongside Dane Thomas Delaney, Dortmund relies heavily on this duo. Whether it be defensively, controlling the middle or even creating going forward, Favre’s star duo will be key to the outcome on Wednesday.
As well as dominating the midfield, Dortmund also hurt teams with their pace out wide. Favre will look to take advantage of one of Tottenham’s biggest weaknesses. Defensively, Spurs’ full-backs have struggled this season.
The likes of Kieran Trippier, Ben Davies and Danny Rose have received criticism for their failure to deal with opposition wingers. This is when Jadon Sancho makes an impact. The English winger is currently having the best season of his young career.
Scoring eight goals and tallying 13 assists so far this season, Sancho is a nightmare to defend. Dealing with injuries, controlling the middle and containing a young star could determine who wins this game.
In what should be an open, entertaining game, Spurs enter as the in-form team. As Favre’s team have begun to struggle, Spurs find themselves sitting in a comfortable third place in the Premier League. Dealing with their injuries better than most, Spurs should feel confident ahead of the home leg.
Coming in without Reus and Akanji, this will be Dortmund’s biggest test without their offensive and defensive leaders. During the first half of the Bundesliga season, Dortmund proved they could adapt under pressure.
As a team, they will need to do the same on Wednesday to secure a positive result. Playing at home will be key for Spurs on the night, but if Pochettino’s team fail to take at least a one-goal advantage into the second leg, they face an uphill battle to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.