Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Champions League – Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur – Round of 16

This is part of our continuing Champions League coverage, don’t forget you can see all of it at our UCL Homepage and there’s more on our Soccer page.

Dortmund v. Tottenham (UCL Round of 16)

Tottenham made this one look easy in the end, although I expect the rematch to include a little more fire from Dortmund in this game. Dortmund held them scoreless for the first 45′ after which the floodgates opened. With a 3-0 lead for Tottenham heading into the Westfalenstadion, Dortmund has some serious ground to make up. Despite the game score, which is what matters, I’m not sure the final score reflects the game’s statistics.

Borussia Dortmund

Dortmund kept Tottenham off the scoresheet through the first half but struggled immensely after that. It was downhill after the 47th minute where they conceded three straight goals with no reply. There’s not much to write about for their performance except that it was a bad day at the office for everyone involved. The one good takeaway from the match was that they created the same number of shots on target as Tottenham, they just didn’t of those on target go in.

In the Bundesliga, we talked about Dortmund’s form including only one loss on the season. Although Dortmund has drawn a few more games and their lead has shrunk from six points to three, they are still standing at the top of the pile. At home in the Bundesliga, the Borussen have been two different teams home and away. At home, they have ten wins, and two draws versus the six wins, four draws, and one loss record on the road.

Dortmund has a long way to go to stay in this one. Tottenham registered almost three times any many shots, but the same number of shots on target. The biggest difference in this game came from the difference in saves, which was enormous. Dortmund’s three most statistically important players in the Bundesliga haven’t been able to continue in the same manner in the Champions League. However, in light of the gaping wound left by Tottenham, scoring has never been a problem for Dortmund (they scored three goals last week). Also, the Borussen have been able to score more than double the amount of goals at home versus away in the Bundesliga season. The team’s inability to score (as many) goals at home were also on display in the group stage of the Champions League.

Players to watch:

Paco Alcacer: Alcacer has had some injury troubles this season fighting between a thigh injury and most recently a shoulder injury. He made an 89-minute appearance against Leverkusen and seemed to be back to fitness. He’s been pivotal in the league for Dortmund contributing 12 goals in 18 appearances, but hasn’t provided the same level of goal scoring or assisting in the Champions League. I think that missing Alcacer has had an impact on our 3rd player to watch, Jadon Sancho, and his ability to feed the ball. With both Reus and Alcacer missing a fair bit of time with injury it’s put a lot of focus on the 18-year old.
Marco Reus: Reus is coming back from a three-week absence due to an injured thigh. Missing Reus had hurt Dortmund substantially, with his initial 5-game absence culminating in 5 games without a win for the Borussen. Reus is expected to make a return this weekend for the side against Augsburg, but I suspect he will only to get a bit of playing time because of the must-win nature of the Tottenham game. Reus has been on fire for Dortmund scoring 13 goals and eight assists in merely 19 appearances. I also think that his return from injury will likely be a boon for Sancho, as the pressure will be back on Reus.
Jadon Sancho: Sancho is a former Manchester City youth that’s started to come into his own for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. He’s been responsible for nearly one goal or assist per appearance; eight goals, and 12 assists in 23 appearances. This form hasn’t carried over to the Champions League, but I don’t see any reason why he can’t translate this over. The whole team has struggled (relatively) away from home because of the combination of Tottenham’s weakness away from home, and Dortmund at home could be a good game for that to change.

Tottenham Hotspur

If you look at the box score, you would imagine that Tottenham completely dominated this game. Although, in reality, they tied with Dortmund for shots on target, albeit with a dramatic increase in shots and (obviously) goals. Two of our three players to watch for the second leg made it onto the scoresheet in the first leg (Son with a goal, Eriksen with an assist). Tottenham have had a substantial drop in form away from England (and Wembley) so far in the Champions League, and if this proves to be the case again, they will need to be focused on riding out of Signal Iduna Park and advancing to the next round.

Tottenham has been excellent in the Premier League despite having long-term absences of Heung-Min Son (for Asian Cup competition) and Harry Kane through injury. Surprisingly, Tottenham has better form away from Wembley, which has served as their home stadium this year. In our first leg preview, we noted the crazy differences between home and away form. Although they have eased slightly with Tottenham moving to 5th-place in home form and 1st-place in away form the trend has continued. The goals scored difference between home and away is -7 (though, they have played one less home game) but they’ve conceded three more away goals. In the last midweek matchup, the Spurs were beaten by a struggling Chelsea side (although the Spurs were visitors) which has to be disappointing result.

As good as Tottenham has been away in the Premier League, they’ve not resembled the same team in the Champions League. In their three away games so far in the season, they’ve managed only 2 points. In home games, they’ve managed to take 10 of the 12 points on offer. The stage is set for a good second leg because Dortmund will be forced to attack from the get-go if they want a chance of remaining in this fixture. Coming from a losing position will force Dortmund to play even more attacking than they did in the first leg (where they matched Tottenham’s shot’s on target) to play catch up. As with any team that takes a very attacking lean, there’s the possibility for a counterattack (see my section on Son).

Players to watch:

Harry Kane: Kane is coming back from his ankle ligament injury  that’s kept him out since January, although he was fit to play in their loss at Burnley over the last weekend. Once Kane went down (the game after Dele Alli went down with a hamstring injury) much of the goal scoring responsibility fell to the Son/Eriksen combination. Kane’s return should shift a seismic weight off of the shoulders of the two allowing them to get back to their favored role of playmaking. Even if Kane isn’t fully fit, he should still act like a magnet pulling defenders in his direction and expanding space for the others.
Christian Eriksen: Eriksen has been an incredibly valuable for Tottenham especially during the injury layoffs of Kane and Dele Alli. He has managed to pull all the strings in the midfield for the Spurs and has provided ample service to Son. In addition to bossing the midfield (and generally set-pieces) he has also managed to make his own stats look very good with five goals and nine assists in the Premier League. Eriksen is perhaps one of few players who have kept up their fantastic form adding a further two goals and an assist in the Champions League. I think that with some of the injured players returning — it will provided similar relief for Eriksen and give him the space to reclaim his role at the puppeteer of the midfield. As long as that happens, Son and Kane just need to make sure to stay with enough space to receive the will-be assists.
Son Heung-Min: Son has been super important for the Hotspur in the Premier League, but he hasn’t been able to convert that form over to the Champions League yet. He’s made an appearance in all of their Champions League games, and the pressure is all on Dortmund. I anticipate that Son will bring his game to this one, he can play with a lot of freedom, and I think that will open his game up. I wouldn’t be surprised if he shows up with a vengeance and scores at least a goal or two and might even tack on an assist. He’s become the focus of many teams after Kane went down injured, I think if Kane makes an appearance at all, Son is going to boss this game. Son should be able to exploit quick, change of pace situations on the counterattack.

What to expect:

Dortmund has been excellent at home but is still up against the ropes in a game against a Tottenham side who have excellent form in the domestic division but have not carried that through to the Champions League.

Last Updated: March 1, 2019

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