Champions League group stage is approaching its end and some of the teams will be receiving their last chances to fight for the places in the playoff. Surprisingly, match week 5 will be decisive for teams like Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, which had been playoff regulars during the previous seasons. This preview aims to do a background check on the German side and their week 5 opponents Tottenham in order to measure Dortmund’s chances to fight for their place in the playoffs.
Group H: Situation
This group has been believed to be the ‘death group’. Real Madrid, Tottenham, Borussia Dortmund, as well as APOEL, are trying to find their place in the playoffs. Tottenham have already booked their place in the knockout stage, while all the three teams left still have the chance to take the second ‘ticket’. Important to note, that even if Dortmund win against the Spurs, they are still not the only decision makers with regards their own future. In case Real Madrid turns out stronger in the away clash against APOEL, Dortmund’s win will be useless in terms of the further battles in the Champions League, but will still be important in the fight for their place in Europa League.
Borussia Dortmund have had one of the worst seasons in the latest years. In the last 10 games in all competitions, they lost five clashes, drawn three and won only two. Moreover, four out of five newesr games were losses too. In general, last time they won in Bundesliga was against Augsburg (1-2) back at the end of September. The last game they played on Friday was another loss, as they scored once and conceded twice in the away clash against Stuttgart (2-1). The Dortmund side is currently the fifth in Bundesliga table with 20 points out of 36 possible. Tottenham, in turn, do not seem to be in a good physical and mental state either. They seem to have issues playing against big teams in English Premier League in general and were not able to break the tradition in their Saturday clash against Arsenal (2-0). Arsenal Wenger side was simply fresher than Mauricio Pochettino side after the international break. Tottenham clearly overestimated their own abilities after the glorious win against Real Madrid (3-1) in match week 4 of Champions League group stage. The Spurs have currently accumulated 23 points from 36 possible and reside in the fourth position of English Premier League.
Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham have met three times in the contemporary history. They faced each other in Europa League season 2015/16 knockout stage round of 16, where the German side was obviously stronger. Dortmund managed to win both at home (3-0) and away (1-2), thus making it clear which team was stronger back in spring 2016. The most recent game happened earlier this fall, as they faced each other in the beginning of September, where Tottenham managed to take a revenge for 2016 games winning 3-1, where their English striker Harry Kane was the main hero of the night (he scored a double).
Borussia Dortmund will be featuring without Lukasz Piszczek, Marco Reus, Sebastian Rode and Erik Durm who have been sidelined for the team’s recent fixtures. Defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos also joined the injured players as he picked up a rib injury during the Friday Loss against Stuttgart. Striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang does not seem to be obliged to serve any longer suspension for ‘disciplinary reasons’ and will be featuring against the London side. Christian Pulisic is still doubtful for the clash as no updates have been available regarding his muscle pains.
Tottenham, in turn, have a long-term injury concern in the face of Toby Alderweireld who is not expected back before the winter break and Victor Wanyama. Erik Lamela, who is on his way to full recovery, is doubtful for the clash, although it is very unlikely that Mauricio Pochettino will risk him for the current clash. Danny Rose seems to be back and expected to be listed in the starting lineup. The coach also stated that neither Harry Kane, nor Dele Alli have any fitness concerns (as being doubted after the Arsenal clash), and will be playing against the German side.
Borussia Dortmund – Manager: Petr Bosz (4-3-3) Burki; Toljan, Zagadou, Bartra, Schmelzer; Gotze, Weigl, Kagawa; Pulisic, Aubameyang, Philipp
Tottenham starting XI – Manager: Mauricio Pochettino (3-4-2-1): Lloris; Sanchez, Dier, Vertonghen; Aurier, Dembele, Winks, Rose; Alli, Eriksen; Kane
Borussia Dortmund are not having a good season, especially taking into account the performance in Bundesliga. The manager Petr Bosz is on the verge of being sacked and will do anything to grab the last chance of continuing the journey in Champions League. The team has a long list of injured players and it is hard for the manager to alter the squad, so the main drive for the team will be the motivation, a factor the opponent most probably will lack. They have already booked their place in the playoffs and are not ready to sacrifice the competence in English Premier League for the clash in Champions League group stage. This being said, Tottenham’s current squad and the overall situation is obviously higher than that of Borussia Dortmund’s and the German side need to put more than their 100% to win this battle. Taking into account all the facts, a one-goal difference win for Borussia Dortmund or a competitive draw seem reasonable results for the current clash.