|OPPONENTS||Borussia Dortmund at Wembley|
|COMPETITION||Champions League Round of 16 First Leg|
|DATE||Wednesday 13th February 2019|
Borussia Dortmund come into this Champions League meeting at Wembley
on the back of three straight draws including a cup defeat on
penalties and a capitulation after being 3-0 ahead to end up only
taking a point against Hoiffenheim.
They also arrive without striker Marco Reus. They have World Cup winning goal-scorer Mario Gotze to play in that role, but almost were lining up without English wonder-kid Jadon Sancho, as he forgot his passport and the plane had to wait for him to go home and get it. Spurs know all about how good the former Manchester City academy product is, because we were hoping to sign him before he chose to go to Germany.
But Sancho isn't the only young gun who they have in their side. Christian Pulisic has been signed up by Chelsea for next season, but loaned back to Dortmund. The American midfielder has a good attitude, working hard, covering a lot of ground and able to pass and score. Another youngster Spurs were linked with, but the price tag took him out of our reach. Tottenham were also linked with Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud, as well as fellow midfielders Julian Weigl, Belgian international Axel Witsel and Dane Thomas Delaney, as well as striker Maximilian PhilippAs well as all this talent we wanted to bring to our team, defender Achraf Hakimi has already featured against Spurs in the Champions League last season for Real Madrid. A promising player, he is on loan at Dortmund for the season to get some first team exposure. Behind him, Turkish keeper Roman Burki showed last season that he cane be beaten at his near post and the game at Wembley turned into a bit of a nightmare for him. The rest of the defence will probably have Schmelzer and Piszczek at full back as they did last season, but replacing dodgy Arsenal bound Sokratis, they brouhgt in Abdou Diallo, the French U21 captain, who was very sought after. Swiss international Manuel Akanji was another summer signing who will slot into the middle of a back four.
It was a new coach who took over from PSG bound Thomas Tuchel, so Lucien Favre left FC Zurich for the Signal Iduna Park, bringing with him, his belief in young players, which prompted some of the comings and goings during the close season. Leading the Bundesliga above the stuttering Bayern Munich, Dortmund will be full of confidence, so Spurs will need to work hard to prevent them having the freedom they need to play their game.
The match will probably be decided on how much was taken out of Spurs in beating Leicester City on Sunday and how much Borussia miss Marco Reus. Both sides have adequate quality in their squads to cover for both eventualities, but we have a secret weapon in Heung-Min Son, who enjoys nothing more than to hit the back of the Dortmund net. He did it for Leverkusen and has done it for Spurs in the last couple of seasons.
Let's hope he makes his mark
again and it helps Spurs go on to a lead for the second leg.
|PREDICTION||Tottenham Hotspur 2 Borussia Dortmund 1|
HOTSPUR TEAM NEWS :
Eric Direr and Erik Lamela are both back in training after shaking off a virus and a back injury respectively. Harry Kane (ankle), Dele Alli (hamstring) and Ben Davies (thigh) are all out of the game.
DORTMUND TEAM NEWS :
Marco Reus is missing, having picked up an injury on Saturday. The German side will also be missing Julian Weigl (illness), Paco Alcacer (shoulder) and Lukasz Piszczek (foot) through injury.
|Champions League Round of 16 First Leg||Kick off 20:00|
|Tottenham Hotspur 3 (0)||
Son 46m 05s
Aurier (Foul on Pulisic) 12
Delaney (foul on Sissoko) 53
|Crowd : 71,214||Weather : Mild|
|Referee : Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz (SPA)||Assistant Referees : Pau Cebrián Devís (SPA); Roberto del Palomar (SPA)|
|Fourth Official : Javier Estrada (SPA)|
|VAR : Alejandro Hernandez (SPA)||Assistant Referees : Juan Martinez Munuera (SPA)|
|Spurs kicked off and played towards the West stand in the first half.|
|Game time : - 90 + 4 minutes.|
|Tottenham Hotspur :||kit||Borussia Dortmund :||kit|
|Manager : Mauricio Pochettino||Manager : Lucien Favre|
|Sponsor : AIA||Shirt sponsor : Evonik|
|Kit Supplier : Nike||Kit Supplier : Puma|
On paper, this looked like a tough assignment for Tottenham, as top of the Bundesliga Borussia Dortmund turned up at Wembley, only to be returning to Germany with a three goal deficit having been swept away by a second half Spurs performance that gave us another Glory, Glory Night.
Outstanding performances by Jan Vertonghen, Moussa Sissoko, Heung-Min Son and Davinson Sanchez were the basis of a team performance that handed Tottenham a good lead to take to Dortmund in three weeks, although their is still much to play for and Spurs will need to be alert, although they could be bolstered by the returns of Harry Kane and Dele Alli by then.
The pre-match talk was surrounding the emergence of England international Jadon Sancho, who left Manchester City for Dortmund and USA midfielder Christian Pulisic, who is making the reverse journey to England, with Chelsea his destination. It was going to be interesting to see how they shaped up against English opposition, having been feted in Germany. Dortmund were without a few defenders and their main striking option of Marco Reus. Spurs were without Kane, Alli and Davies, so the absences balanced out as the game kicked off in front of a 71,000 crowd.
The first half wasn't cagey, as both teams were passing the ball around, but it lacked decisive action on the final thirds, making it appear like a tactical battle. In fact, both sides were closing down to put pressure on the ball leading to it being lost or given away a lot of the time. Dortmund had lined up with Gotze at the head of the team, with Sancho and Pulisic right and left just behind him. Burki was in goal and remembering his performance of last season, I would imagine that he would be guarding his near post a little more carefully, although he had central defenders Toprak and Zagadou in front of him without a tall Spurs striker to mark. We did wonder that if Zagadou pushed pineapple in the box, whether VAR would be employed.
After Sunday's win against Leicester, Vertonghen was used on the left to get crosses in again and when an early ball in was headed out, Davinson Sanchez got to it first to nod it back towards the edge of the Dortmund area. Lucas Moura was there to take the ball down brilliantly on his thigh and then hook a powerful volley at goal that flew half a yard wide, with Burki stationary. When Dortmund did push forward, Pulisic went on a run that saw him tumbled by Aurier, who was immediately booked by the egotistical referee, who seemed to make it his purpose not to allow the players to play the game, but to make sure he was at the centre of it. The American was the first player to get a shot on target in the game however. Juan Foyth had already turned on the edge of his own penalty area to leave two yellow shirted players looking bemused, but when Tottenham tried to play the ball out again, he found himself robbed and Pulisic was released in the left side of the box, driving to the line and firing at goal from a very narrow angle, only for Hugo to close his legs and block the ball for a corner. The Spurs captain had an easier save when the ball headed his way a few minutes later, when he got down to his right to get behind Witsel's bobbling shot from 18 yards out. This period of the game was reminiscent of last season when they got their goal. Sharp, short passing with good movement off the ball was causing Spurs problems, but they failed to make too much of it when they got close to the Tottenham goal. The back four were on their toes and managed to intercept passes or just get a foot in when required. Then, in the next few minutes, the tables turned and it was Spurs on top, with Dortmund just getting in their tackles at the right time. When Foyth broke forward on the right wing, his pull back to Eriksen on the edge of the box was struck first time, but Christian couldn't keep it down and it posed no threat to the Dortmund goal.
From the goal-kick, the visitors moved forward and carved out a chance for Thomas Delaney, who was 20 yards out, forcing Lloris to a sprawling parry, with the Spurs keeper almost caught out. Straight back up to the other end, Son got Tottenham's first shot on target after 36 minutes. He got past his man in the left side of the area and hit a low shot from about the place he scored from last season, but this time Burki kept it out with his foot. With Sancho and Pulisic fading out of the game, when they were on the ball they attempted to effect dives, but the referee was at least with it enough to realise and wave away their claims for fouls. It was weak play and they will need to toughen up if they are to make an impact on the game.
All was going well, but a minute before the break, Sancho put a cross to the far post from the right wing and it was met by Zagadou, rising unmarked. He headed the ball down form about eight yards out, but Lloris moved his feet well to dive right and stretch to scooped the ball away before it crossed the line. It was interesting, as it was about the only football related thing that the Dortmund defender managed, as he looked like someone who had put a kit on and strolled out with the team, like some giant mascot. He must be pretty good to get into the Borussia side, but looked most unathletic.
The half-time chat was with Dimitar Berbatov, but it was lost on the crowd who stayed in their seats, as the PA distorted almost every word. The talk amongst the fans around us was what would happen in the second half and some questioned the wisdom of passing the ball out from the back, not realising that this is the way that Pochettino wants the side to play to draw the opposition out of their shape.
The second half was less than two minutes old when the ball was down in the Dortmund right corner, with them trying to play it out. They couldn't do that though, as Eriksen picked off a pass out and laid it into Lucas, who got the ball off to Vertonghen on the left before he got hit with a tackle. Jan looked up and whipped in a cross that was more millimetre perfect than inch perfect, as he got it over the 6 foot plus figure of Zagadou, who seemed to have trouble getting airborne, allowing the ball in to find Sonny, who guided a volley past a static Burki to put Tottenham ahead. It was an exquisite cross from Jan and made HMS's task easy and added another goal to his ever increasing tally against BVB.
Three minutes later, Son almost recreated his goal against Leicester on Saturday, when he was sent away and only failed to do so when Toprak caught up with him to take the ball away from him. It seemed that Poch had changed things around at half-time and pushed Aurier and Vertonghen further forward to thwart the Dortmund progress on the flanks, with Tottenham closing quicker and moving the ball more swiftly. In quick succession, Delaney was booked for a foul on Son and then Eriksen struck the resulting free-kick into the wall. Jan was enjoying himself so much that when he won the ball on halfway, he took a return pass and charged forward, ignoring his available team-mates to lash a shot at goal that swerved away from the target. Christian struck a long range shot all the way along the turf that Burki dived to save easily and then the Dane was released by Alderweireld with a quick free-kick and his cross almost picked out Son in the middle, but Diallo just got there to head it out for a corner. Eriksen took it and aimed for the near post, where, for once, a Spurs shirt won the header and Toby was unlucky to see his effort on target, but held by Burki. It was a well-worked routine and one that almost paid off.
With the momentum behind them, Spurs were enjoying the second half, as Son turned the ball on to Sissoko, whose low ball was heading for Lucas to finish in front of goal until Toprak slid in to clear. The German side tried to penetrate the spurs defence with 20 minutes left, but Lloris was equal to a low drive by Mahoud, straight at him. Within five minutes, a Tottenham corner saw Eriksen pick out Lucas at the far side of the penalty box from the right and his shot was blocked for another corner. Dortmund took of Zagadou, replacing him with Schmelzer, who had little impact. The corner tried the same routine again, but this time Lucas sclied his shot and it flew over.
With the majority of possession now, the ball was played around until a shot on goal was cleared on the edge of the visitors box and Sanchez won it back, playing in Aurier on the right and the ball into the Dortmund box was another excellent one, with this time Jan Vertonghen coming into the box off the left wing and picking out a volley that went through the keeper. It was great to see him hit the net and produce his "SuperJan" celebration, as he was worth it for his all action performance. There were seven minutes left and Tottenham were on top with Dortmund looking unable to cope with the power of the Spurs second half display.
The team fancied extending their lead and Eriksen struck a shot from 25 yards that was only stopped by Toprak's out-standing block. Llorente was introduce din place of Moura, who looked tired and with only his second touch, showed he is feeling at home in the side. Breaking up a move on the Spurs goal, Sissoko looked to release Eriksen, but Schmelzer got back to slide in and prevent any future damage at the expense of a corner. When Christian played it into the near post area again, Toby missed it this time, but Fernando was behind him to get the slightest touch on the ball to take it into the goal leaving Burki helpless and his defenders with their heads in their hands. 3-0 with only added time to come ! Some things are more enjoyable when there is little time left. Llorente enjoyed his moment and it was a well taken header, as he couldn't have seen much of it until the last minute (quite literally).
Off went Sancho and Pulisic with two minutes left on the clock, but the Spurs fans were not worried about that, as a 3-0 score-line would have been beyond the realm of most people's predictions. One of the subs - Guerreiro - tried a curling shot that narrowly went wide as the game came to a close and the crowd were ecstatic at the final whistle. Three fine goals, a clean sheet and no bookings means that we are in strong, but not unbeatable position. A goal in Germany will mean Dortmund have to score five and with their recent record not being that great in terms of defending, it might be enough to squeeze through.
The Spurs players on the pitch will take all the applause, but there was significant recognition of the impact Pochettino's tactics had on the outcome of the match. He is turning into an astute manager and his substitutions are having a dramatic effect on the games recently. There is a long way to go in this competition, but with Vertonghen saying in the build-up to this game that there is no reason why Tottenham can't win it this year, he had to put in a big performance and he did. There were heroes all round the team, as Poch said post-match and they will keep performing heroics in this and other competitions. Whether we win any of them is still in the balance, but they won't be for the want of trying.
This victory gave Tottenham their joint-biggest Champions League victory, winning by a three-goal margin for the fifth time.
gave Borussia Dortmund their joint-biggest Champions League loss,
losing by 0-3 for the fifth time.
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|What you thought|
|Other scores in this Round of games :|
|AS Roma (ITA)||2||FC Porto (POR)||1||Tuesday|
|Manchester United||0||Paris Saint Germain (FRA)||2||Tuesday|
|Ajax (HOL)||1||Real Madrid (SPA)||2||Wednesday|
|Liverpool||-||Bayern Munich (GER)||-||Tuesday|
|Olympique Lyonnais (FRA)||-||Barcelona (SPA)||-||Tuesday|
|Atletico Madrid (SPA)||-||Juventus (ITA)||-||Wednesday|
|Schalke 04 (GER)||-||Manchester City||-||Wednesday|
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