OPPONENTS Borussia Dortmund 
COMPETITION Champions League   Group H
DATE Wednesday 13th September 2017
VENUE Wembley
PREVIEW Having faced Dortmund in the Europa League a couple of seasons back, we know that they are a good side with a decent pedigree in European football competition.  While the side is changed since then and the manager is new too, the system they employ might be a little different, but still relies on the pace to break on teams.

Having lost Ousmane Dembele to Barcelona, their strike power is slightly reduced, but Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang still leads the line with strength and pace and a knack for scoring.  With a long list of players missing through injury, the side that takes the field will be drastically different to the one that has topped the Bundesliga and for the manager Peter Bosz, it will be a juggling act to take on the challenge on two fronts at the moment.

He was behind the Ajax side who reached the Europa League final last season and likes to play a 4-3-3 pressing game, but built on a strong defence.  Much of that back four he will be without.

One interesting member of their squad is Jadon Sancho, who Spurs chased when he refused to sign a new deal at Manchester City, but he would only be allowed to leave for a foreign side.  At 17, he might not be a starter, but he may be pressed into action here and his assets are his ability on the ball and his goal-scoring.  Tottenham were also long associated with a move for midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud, who joined Dortmund from Moenchengladbach and were also keen to sign Hoffenheim defender Jeremy Toljan as a replacement for Kyle Walker.  Both these players should feature and the opportunity to assess how they might have fared for us is a side show which hopefully, will not leave us unhappy at missing out.  Especially as Maximilian Philipp, Nuri Sahin, Christian Pusilic, Mario Gotze, Omar Toprak, Andre Schurrle and Andriy Yarmelenko have all been linked with moves to Tottenham in the recent past.

With Spurs having to make changes, it will give players both a chance to rest (Dele being suspended) and others to get some time in the team.  Aurier may well make his debut and Llorente might feature at some stage.  The key is to play a game which suits us and keeps Dortmund at arm's length.  They showed at the Lane that taking your chances is key and we need to adopt that ruthless approach.  It could have handed us another big away win at Goodison if we had been more clinical.  Eriksen might be an important figure to get us playing, but Sissoko showed glimpses that he can get at teams and Sanchez at the back slotted in really well with Jan and Toby at the back.

If Tottenham can keep Auabmeyang quiet and play as they did against Everton last Saturday, I think it could be possible to sneak a narrow win.

PREDICTION Tottenham Hotspur    1         Borussia Dortmund    0
Danny Rose, Georges-Kevin Nkoudou, Erik Lamela and Victor Wanyama are all still injured, while dele Alli serves the first of a 3 match ban for getting sent off in the Europa League last season.
Dortmund come into the game at Wembley with injuries to Marco Reus (knee), Raphael Guerreiro (foot), Andre Schurrle (thigh), Erik Durm (hip), Marc Barta (groin), Sebastian Rode (knock), Julian Weigl (ankle) and Marcel Schmelzer (ankle).  Neven Subotic might join them, as he has been taken ill while training ahead of the game.

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Tottenham Hotspur  3 (2)                                                                       
Champions League  Group H
Wednesday 13th September 2017
Borussia Dortmund  1 (1)

Kick off 19:45
Son  3m 41s
Kane  14m 51s
Kane  59m 29s
Yarmolenko  10m 42s
Dier (foul on Papastathopoulos)  36 
Vertonghen (foul on Yarmolenko)  58 

Vertonghen (Second yellow - raised arm)  90+2 

Toljan  (foul on Aurier)  88
Castro  (foul on Dembele)  90



Crowd :   67,343 Weather :  Dry, mild
Referee :  Gianluca Rocchi (ITA) Assistant Referees :  Elenito Di Liberatore; Mauro Tonolini (ITA)
Fourth Official :  Alberto Tegoni (ITA) Additional Assistant Referees :  Luca Banti; Massimiliano Irrati (ITA)
UEFA Match Delegate :  Emil Ubias (CZE) UEFA Referee Observer :  Michel Piraux (BEL)
Spurs kicked off and played towards the East Stand end in the first half.
Game time : -  90 + 4 minutes.
Tottenham Hotspur : kit Borussia Dortmund : kit
  1  Hugo LLORIS  (c)

  5  Jan VERTONGHEN           
  6  Davinson SANCHEZ

15  Eric DIER     
19  Mousa DEMBELE 

24  Serge AURIER
  7  Heung-Min SON    (17  Moussa SISSOKO  83)
20  DELE Alli
Christian ERIKSEN
33  Ben DAVIES

10  Harry KANE      (18  Fernando LLORENTE  87)

Unused subs: 
13  Michel VORM

  2  Kieran TRIPPIER
21  Juan FOYTH
29  Harry WINKS

  38  Roman BURKI

26  Lukasz PISZCZEK
36  Omar TOPRAK
  (  2  Dan-Exel ZAGADOU  80)
15  Jeremy TOLJAN

23  Shinji KAGAWA  (10  Mario GOTZE  66)
19  Mahmoud DAHOUD  (27  Gonzalo CASTRO  72)
  8  Nuri SAHIN

17  Pierre-Emerick AUBAMEYANG
22  Christian PULISIC

  9  Andriy YARMOLENKO 

Unused subs: 
  4  Neven SUBOTIC
14  Alecksander ISAK
20  Maximilian PHILIPP

Manager :  Mauricio Pochettino Manager :  Peter Bosz
Sponsor :   AIA Shirt sponsor :  Evonik
Kit Supplier :  Nike Kit Supplier :   Puma
Match report 1

The night Tottenham grew up

Spurs 3 – Borussia Dortmund 1

This always promised to be a storming evening’s football.   Memories of the two Europa cup legs of the 1-5 aggregate defeat in Mar 2016 were still fresh in the mind.  In those games Dortmund gave a Spurs side who were flying high in the league at the time, a lesson in organised tactical, intelligent football, so much so, that they made Spurs look like a pub scratch team.

Fast forward a year, and with painful memories of Monaco’s smash and grab at Wembley in the ECL last year also fresh in the mind, there was much expectation as to whether Spurs with another season under their belt had tactically improved since those experiences.

Before the kick-off the team news exposed that for Dortmund the influential Guerreiro, Reus and Schurrle were missing.   For Tottenham, the suspended Dele Alli looked like a gap that might be hard to fill as Alli is instrumental in linking the midfield with the attack normally; his intelligent movement creating problems for defences.

The news for Spurs was that both Aurier and Sanchez were playing, with Trippier suffering for the cause.  Before the game this looked like a brave move by Pochettino, however one often overlooked characteristic of his management tenure at Tottenham, is that he rarely gets team selection wrong, either before the game or during the game.  I felt a little sorry for Trippier, as he is a great provider in the Premier League, and a class above the exited Walker in terms of crossing the ball, but actually I wonder if his football intelligence is mature enough at the very top level of Champions League.

As it turned out this was a chance for us to see the two new boys in action against top class opposition and they were both immense, vindicating the boss’s decision to start them.

The opening goal by Son had many things wrong with it from a Dortmund perspective, defending too high up, not closing him down, two defenders getting in each other’s way and a goalkeeper who hadn’t got his angles right, but take nothing away from Son’s determination, drive, directness for goal and a superb strike of the ball to put us in front and settle the nerves.    I like Son.  He’s a tryer.  He never gives up, even when he’s missed six in a row, and he seems the perfect type of player for the Champions League: fast, tricky and good feet and brain.

The equaliser had me thinking at the time that Lloris seems to have the same long-range vision problem that Joe Hart suffers from, great reactions, and good sweeper, but susceptible to long-range shots and free kicks.   To be fair to him though, having seen the replay on the screens, there is nothing he could realistically have done to keep that shot out from Yarmalenko.  It had great spin on it and it was right in the far corner.  Sometimes, you just have to give the striker credit.

There then followed an intense period of pressure from Dortmund.   They were moving the ball around with delightful technical skill, speed and patience, however Tottenham were patient and kept their shape and made it hard for the German team to find the decisive pass they needed.  By dropping deep and looking to hit Dortmund on the counter-attack Tottenham showed a maturity not seen in the previous campaign, where they tried to take their high-pressing game from the Premiership into a competition littered with the best teams and ground with much greater areas to cover.  Could it be that Spurs had learned their lessons?

Puncturing this period to the delight of all bar a few thousand mad yellow flag-waving drum-beating Dortmund fans, was another explosive run and shot from Harry Kane.  Almost a carbon copy of Son’s approach, but in reality a much harder chance to finish as the goalkeeper was better positioned, but the pace and accuracy of Kane’s shot put it in the only place on his near post he didn’t quite have covered.  Again, credit the striker.

This really raised the crowd, although credit to the Dortmund fans, even being 2-1 down didn’t quieten them down, if anything the drum beat faster, with the rhythm complexity that would have given the drummer a chance to audition for the Who or Led Zep.

The possession stats for this game will show that Spurs were on the back foot for the majority of it but they defended well with Vertonghen, Sanchez and Alderweireld all making good clearances.

Davies worked his boots off too, providing an outlet for clearances, and carrying the ball up the field on a number of occasions to relieve the pressure on the defence.  Davies is a player who has matured hugely in the last year and his intelligence of when to play and when to hold has increased significantly.  From being a squad player, he is probably hard to dislodge from that position now.  He has also learned to get up the field and support the forwards, contributing a cracking shot later in the game that Spurs were unlucky not to capitalise on the rebound.

In the middle of the park, Dembele looked a little short of top sharpness, nevertheless the combination of him and Dier worked well to provide some protection from the defence.   Dier looked anonymous on the night, but that would be a little unfair on him.  He didn’t do anything spectacular, but he also didn’t make any mistakes and held his position to keep the shape of the team tight.

So going into the half-time break Spurs had survived an onslaught, partially by good team shape discipline, and if I’m honest, partially by some clever fouls.

The second half started and Kane and Son both had great chances to bury the game.  Spurs were playing a little higher up the pitch and making the Dortmund forwards run back on-side a lot, a tactic to wear them out, and it was working.   In addition it meant any rare loss of possession meant a quick accurate forward ball and we were in with a counter attacking chance.

This tactical awareness was new for this Spurs team.  I’d like to think it was the players understanding it and taking the decisions on the pitch, but a shouting Pochettino makes me think a lot of it is down to training and management tactics and a team willing to be flexible enough to listen to the manager.

A potentially match-deciding movement from Dortmund then culminated with Aubameyang being incorrectly flagged for offside after putting the ball neatly in the Tottenham net.   From my seat in the ground, I could see he was on-side (although all the players around him were off-side), but the assistant referee on the line called it incorrectly.  Whilst a huge relief to the Spurs fans, this wasn’t a surprise as he had been making bad, or indeed no, calls evening, seeming to defer to the referee in the middle on every throw or corner, even when he was clearly better placed.

Any sympathy I had for Dortmund was dissipated instantly when I remembered some of the poor refereeing displays Tottenham had been on the receiving end in Europe.   In particular the performance of the ref in the Europa League Quarter Final Second Leg in April 2013 is a sore memory.  

Vertonghen eventually picked up a yellow for a silly foul, but to be honest, he had been committing small fouls all evening and he may have got away with this one, but kicking the ball when the player was on  the floor and with the ball between the legs, was all the ref needed as an excuse to say ‘enough’.    Barely had we got our heart-rate back to something like normal after the scare of this chalked-out goal, than Kane was off down the productive left wing shaking a Dortmund player off nibbling at him and getting away with a little tug of his own to draw the goalkeeper and this time bury it in the far post.  Yes it took a deflection, but the power and accuracy of his shot meant it was unstoppable.   This was the crowning of a five-star performance from Kane.   He has proven himself a great striker of the ball, but in the last season his positional awareness, movement, stamina, speed and strength to shake of challenges has grown immensely.  He has transformed from boy to man, and what a man when it comes to scoring goals.  I still have friends who say he is not a great goal-scorer, to which I say; read the stats, listen to Souness, Shearer, Henry, Wright and indeed the Dortmund players after the game.   They know a world-class striker when they see one.  He’s something special and I think he can get better.   Not only on the ball, but he dragged the team to success with his energy, chasing down, and running.  He set the bar, and the team raised themselves to it.

The remainder of the game, whilst on the face of it less eventful showed a savvy Spurs team stay down for every foul, take their time for every substitution, not chase to pick the ball up for a throw, not goal-kick instantly.   I know that all fans hate this when the opposition do it to your team when you are losing but we are too honest and too ‘English’ in this respect in the past.  Too naďve to play this game usually.  However here we were in the middle of a European game against top opposition.  They wouldn’t think twice about doing it to us.  This was football intelligence, not just technique, skill and application.    Only two things left to mention of the game.   A superb moment to see Fernando Llorente come on.   What could be a better substitution than to take off a player (Kane) who had run himself ragged, scored a couple of cracking goals, to give him a rest and a chance to take the applause he so deserved, and replace him with someone who is an experienced player, a better header of the ball, and therefore a better target for a long ball out of defence to relieve the pressure on a tired team.   I think Llorente will prove to be a master signing in the style of Van der Vaart or Klinsmann.   He brings experience and a personality to a changing room full of impressionable talented players and I think we will pitch in with the scoring and offer a Plan B.

The only blot on the night was Vertonghen picking up his second yellow for a silly slap.  His arguments could be valid about not looking and therefore not knowing where the player was, but anyone who has ever played football will know that as a top defender you need to know where your opponent is at all times.  He knew what he was doing, and it was a silly needless foul.

After the game Toby Alderweireld said ‘we did not play like kids’.   Harry Kane said ‘In the CL you need to be smart.  You can’t always press teams on a big pitch.  It was a more experienced performance from us tonight’.  Spot on lads.   This was the night that Tottenham grew up.

Ray Hockley

Match report 2

With a cracking start to the game, unfortunately missed by a large number of fans stuck in rail problems, Tottenham took their good victory at Goodison into this Champions League match to win their first home game this season with a convincing 3-1 score-line against Borussia Dortmund.  Thanks to a fine all-round team performance, with a few outstanding performers, Spurs managed to take an important early three points to start their campaign in this competition's toughest group. 

67,000 fans eventually got in, with Dortmund's yellow wall looking a little deconstructed, but they did bring three drummers with them, but I am not sure how that fits in with UEFA's requirement to have a certain number of rows at the front empty.  Also, the presence of a massive flag on a massive pole must have been an interesting encounter with the stewards carrying out the searches on entry to the stadium.  Tottenham approached the match knowing Dele Alli would be missing through suspension being sent off here against Gent last season, but there was a debut start for Serge Aurier and Davinson Sanchez lined up along Jan and Toby in a back three, with Son in for Sissoko, who took a place on the bench, alongside Fernando Llorente among others.

The Champions League theme still sends a little tingle up the spine, but unfortunately, the stadium had just over half the final attendance at kickoff, as a problem on the Metropolitan line delayed a large number of fans, who were still lining up in huge queues outside, as the early action began (with some only getting after 15 minutes of kick off). 

By the time it reached the night's final head count, the score was 2-1 to Spurs, while that doesn't tell the whole story.  Within seconds of the start, Eriksen's closing down almost took the ball off Papastathopoulos, but when Spurs defended a Borussia set-piece, Sanchez did well to play the ball out.  It got to Harry Kane, just inside his own half and his pass set Sonny away down the left.  Without a challenge coming in on him, he made for the box and still out left, he drive the ball hard to the near post, where keeper Burki lived up to his name and flung an arm up, but failed to make much of an effort to get it on the ball, which whistled past him into the net.  Four minutes in and 1-0 ahead, with a cracking goal.  It was worked from front to back in a move that promises much for the season ahead.

But the goal sparked Dortmund into action and they began pressing Spurs much higher up the pitch, while moving the ball about confidently and skillfully.  The defence were tested, as their intricate passing around the edge of the box probed for a way through, but the wing backs got back to produce a five man back line that was tight and when the passes did get through, Hugo was out like a flash to snaffle them up.  There were a couple of low balls across the face of the box, but there was no neon yellow shirt bright enough to get on the end of them and others were cut out before they got that far by Alderweireld and Davies.  Just after 10 minutes, the German side hit back.  Working the ball from the left side to the right, Kagawa rolled the ball to Yarmolenko, just outside the area and his shot was lifted around and over Lloris into the top right hand corner of the keeper's net.  It had been coming as Borussia turned the screw, with more pressure coming after the goal, with Aurier needing to be strong on his first Spurs appearance.

In a flash, Tottenham were ahead again, with the ball being fed to Kane on the halfway line.  A tackle came in, but bounced off the striker and the Dortmund player was left on the floor, as the referee played on to give Spurs the advantage and boy, did Kane take it.  Striding forward into the box with players backing off, he drilled a left foot shot  from 15 yards out that rose past Burki at his near post, in an action replay of Son's goal.  The keeper looked shell-shocked and the remainder of the visitors defence were surrounding the referee saying he should have pulled the game back for a foul ON Kane !!  2-1 with a quarter of an hour gone, with lots more to play for. 

Spurs were now in the ascendency and were passing crisply to push Dortmund back and make their players work hard to stop us getting through.  The number of times they had to resort to forwards tracking back was starting to add up, but Tottenham had to be alert too, with Davies flicking a header away from Yarmolenko and Vertonghen knocking the ball away as Aubameyang lurked behind him.  Dier was yellow carded for a rash dive in on Papastathopoulos and when the Germans attacked, it was American midfielder Pusilic who was inches away from converting a low cross by Gabon international Aubameyang.  Burki finally came to his team's rescue, when Kane almost put Christian Eriksen through, but the keeper just beat him to the ball well outside his area.  Right on half-time, Pusilic was denied by the linesman flagging him offside after he put the ball in the net, but the Dortmund fans didn't even celebrate, although they were at the other end of the ground.

No added time despite three goals and a couple of stoppages for injuries, so it was Gary Mabbutt who was the half-time guest and it was good to see him in such good health after his summer heart surgery. 

The first half goals by Spurs must have come as a slap in the face for the visiting side, but within seconds of the restart, Toprak got a ball flush in his mush as a team-mate tried to clear it and was laid out for a while.  Aurier was getting forward in a Walker like style, but his outrageous dummy in the first half, when he ducked under a cross to fool the Dortmund player who might have been thinking about going for it, saw the Ivory Coast defender running away with the ball.  That a neat little passage of passing between him and Eriksen, involving drag-backs tight in his own corner, immediately won a lot of Spurs fans over.

Spurs foudn a way through to goal five minutes after half-time, when Eriksen's cute pass set Kane in on goal, but this time he fired too high and Son followed his lead after Kane put him away on goal.  Tottenham's defenders looked too strong for Dortmund and Lloris looked like he might have laid himself open to a bad injury when he came well out of his box to clear from Aubameyang, as he dangled a leg out to kick the ball away, but it was the Dortmund forward who came off worse, limping away form the challenge.  However, it looked as though Aubameyang had the last laugh on the Spurs keeper, when he smashed the ball past him to finish off a good cross from Sahin, but once more the linesman had his flag raised for offside ... wrongly, TV showed later.  Vertonghen was deemed to have fouled Sahin and handed Aubameyang a shooting chance from the free-kick 30 yards out.  he can be deadly from set-pieces, but this time he only threatened the man in row 25 behind the goal.

Much like Dortmund had been after the first Spurs goal, we were building moves by retaining possession and when Dembele picked up a clearance form the Dortmund defence, he played it in to Davies, who laid it off for Eriksen to slide a pass through to Kane, inside the left corner of the box.  Harry got the ball out of his feet and shot through a defender's legs and past the outstretched arm of Burki's dive to see the ball go in just inside the far post to send the Tottenham fans wild.   It was the goal of a master at work.  All the talk about whether he is world class is all moot.  He has that ability and is showing he is deadly from a lot of different goal-scoring positions.

Spurs were looking to cash in on their lead, with Vertonghen popping up on the left wing, where a 50 yard run won a throw-in up by Dortmund's corner.  Davies was also getting forward and when Eriksen picked him out coming into the left side of the box, his first time shot was beaten out by the goalie, just as had happened on Saturday at Everton, but this time it did not fall kindly for Kane or Son, as the ball went between them.  A save at the other end left Spurs indebted to Hugo for keeping out Aubameyang's low shot from the left after a corner had run all the way through to him with 20 minutes left..

Kane was the architect of Tottenham's next chance, as he put Son away and he should have done better than let Toprak get back to block his effort.  From the corner, Toby got up well, but put his header wide.  Kane had one more effort blocked and he then played a pass to Eriksen, who side-stepped a defender, but put in a rising shot that rose too much.  Harry went closer when he swivelled on a through pass on the right to screw a shot across the keeper, but agonisingly inches wide of the far post too.   The booking for Vertonghen was matched by Papastathopoulos, who went through Kane from behind without a hope of getting the ball, but the erratic Italian ref failed to show him a card.  It didn't quite do for Harry, but Poch decided to rest him and bring on the experienced Llorente.  It was only four minutes of normal time plus whatever was added, but it gave the deadline day signing a chance to lead the line. 

In quick succession Toljan and Castro were booked as their frustration boiled over and substitute Gotze was lucky he didn't make contact with anyone, as he launched a two footed, off the ground, out of control lunge.  Ironically, it was the same player who dived into Vertonghen, who turned away from him in added time, only to catch him with his arm and supposedly knock some of his teeth out.  Having missed most of last season, don't expect to see the World Cup winning goal-scorer for another good few months.  Having made his mind up early and as is the practice on the continent that players are often sent off in the closing stages of a match, he flashed a second yellow at Jan and then a red.  TV after the game confirmed it shouldn't have been a caution, but at least Vertonghen will only miss the APOEL match.

As Dortmund pushed for a late consolation, Moussa Sissoko lined up well with Eriksen and was  out away by a touch off a Dortmund boot, but the Spurs sub tried to dink the ball over the keeper, making a bit of a mess of it and ended up missing the target when a fourth goal would have been the icing on the cake. 

While it was not the same side that beat up so convincingly a year and a bit ago, nor event he side who has topped the Bundesliga this season so far, it was still a team with a lot of quality and pedigree, so, for Spurs to overcome them in such style, showed a massive turnaround in the way we approach these games now.  When teams first qualify for the Champions League it takes a season or two to become accustomed to the step up in class.  Our side has learned quickly and while the team in Dortmund last time lost us the tie going down 0-3, Poch got his selection right and it was a solid win against an experienced European side.

There were some outstanding performances, with Davies, Sanchez, Aurier, Toby and Jan all strong in defence, the midfield worked hard and used the ball very well and Harry and Sonny were a constant threat to the Dortmund back line, who sometimes had to resort to fouls, which they mainly got away with.  What they didn't get away with was three points, as Spurs joined Real Madrid at the top of the table with the Spanish holders seeing off APOEL 3-0 at the Bernabeu.

The confidence gained form the comprehensive win over Everton was carried into this match and a monkey off the back with a win at Wembley will help them through the rest of the season for domestic and European games.

Sid. E. Netting



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