Oyveh Maria says, ‘It`s D-Day (Dortmund Day) at Wembley! Can we dig in and grind out a result?’
We are playing European home games at Wembley again and, having won only once in four European matches at our temporary home in 2016/17, this time we can`t afford to lose. Given the Dynamics of the group Real Madrid will be seen as a banker to get out of the Group Stage leaving only one place up for grabs to make the knock out stages. We took just three points from our three group home games in 2016/17, losing to Monaco (1-2) and Bayer Leverkusen (0-1) before a 3-1 win against CSKA Moskva. We were then held 2-2 by Gent in the UEFA Europa League. We have won only one of our last five European “home” fixtures. How does Poch get us out of this mind set?
Dortmund are top of the Bundesliga and have had some changes since last season, they go into this season with a new manager, Peter Bosz, who has shown he can put all Dortmund`s talent in positions to succeed, they have two wins from their first three Bundesliga matches, even if they have lost their star man Ousmane Dembele. In those three matches they`ve scored five goals and are yet to concede. At the start of their season they drew 2-2 with Bayern Munich in the German Supercup, won 0-3 away to Wolfsburg and then won 2-0 at home to Hertha Berlin but struggled to 0-0 away at Freiburg, despite Freiburg being down to 10 men. Dortmund are difficult to score against but they are carrying some injuries; Dortmund have seven injury problems ahead of the game. Five players have already been confirmed out of our Champions League game. Manager Petr Bosz is without Marco Reus (ankle ligament), Raphael Guerreiro (ankle), Andre Schürrle (muscular), Erik Durm (hip) and Sebastian Rode (ankle) and Marcel Schmelzer is definitely out. Their CB, Marc Batra, is also struggling. What we must not do is go into this game with the fear of losing. Dortmund maybe without Dembele, but they still have Pierre-Emerick Aubamyang who has managed six goals in his opening 5 games across all competitions this season, Julian Weigl, Papastathopoulos, and Christian Pulisic, the 18 year-old American, has talent and will give Davies problems.
Dortmund have become used to participating in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds but they know with holders Real Madrid also in the Group they will need to get an away result against us. In Previous meetings Dortmund beat us when we met them in the 2015/16 UEFA Europa League round of 16, winning both legs 5-1 on aggregate. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Marco Reus (2) got the goals in Dortmund before Aubameyang struck twice more at White Hart Lane, Son scored the consolation. Have we stepped up a class since then? Are we a bit more savvy regarding how to play teams like Dortmund? When we lost 5-1 to Dortmund the team we put out was Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies (Rose 13), Dier, Mason, Chadli, Alli (Carroll 70), Lamela (Onomah 74), Son. So you have to say, on paper, Poch has a better side than he had in season 2015/16. We don`t have Delle Alli for the next 3 CL games so who does Poch put in his place, Son? Or, drop Harry in behind Fernando Llorente? Will Poch play 3 at the back and rely on the speed of Aurier and Sánchez to get back if we play a high line? Was Dembele rested for Wednesday or will Sissoko start? Did Trippier going the distance on Saturday mean we can expect Poch to give Aurier a start?
Dortmund are in the group stage for the 12th time and a sixth in seven years, they have reached the knockout stage on their last four UEFA Champions League appearances. In 2016/17 they beat Benfica 4-1 on aggregate in the round of 16, subsequently losing 6-3 to Monaco over two legs (2-3 home, 1-3 away). On matchday one, 12 months ago, Dortmund triumphed 6-0 at Legia Warszawa, their biggest-ever European away success. They also won their next away game, at Sporting Clube de Portugal (2-1), but their run ended in their next three on the road, including defeats in the last two. Davinson Sánchez played under new Dortmund coach Peter Bosz at AFC Ajax in 2016/17. Son scored five times in his five matches against Dortmund with Hamburger SV and Leverkusen. Dortmund`s stats for the opening of this season read; Goals per game 2.5 Avg. Possession 63%, pass accuracy 82.5%, shots per game 15.5, tackles per game 21, dribbles per game 7.5. They are at their strongest attacking down the wing, but, stopping opponents creating chances is their Achilles heel. In fact, they are strong in every department, especially in finishing and protecting a lead. Their style of play is to keep the ball until they create some space as their good at spotting an opening.
This is going to be tactical battle for Poch, he has to make sure we high press them. Dortmund like to be on the ball they don`t like being pressed off the ball. This could be a lung busting game for Spurs and the concentration levels will have to be at their utmost. Whatever happens we must not let them score and us go behind because they are good at protecting a lead and we need a positive start to get the massive crowd going. Let`s hope we can turn it on this time!