While the English media has been slavering over Liverpool drawing Manchester United in the Europa League Round of 16 this morning, the matchup between Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund has been quickly building up a huge buzz of excitement. Dortmund and Tottenham are both dynamic teams with excellent players that play exciting, positive football, and the series already has the feel of a cup final about it.
Notably, it's not just Tottenham who's excited: the Dortmund organization has also expressed its anticipation of the matches. On Dortmund's website, the club released quotes from several high level club officials and players, and all of them are positively giddy about the pairing.
Hans-Joachim Watzke (Chairman and CEO): "A fantastic opponent. There will be two great evenings of football at White Hart Lane and at Signal Iduna Park. We are looking forward to both encounters."
Michael Zorc (Sporting Director): "Tottenham are the most difficult side that we could have been up against, but it's also a hugely appealing fixture."
Thomas Tuchel (Head Coach): "I think it's a golden opportunity; very difficult but also hugely appealing. We are looking forward to two exciting matches. On a personal level I'm looking forward to meeting a special Coach and I'm already looking forward to the amazing atmosphere in the return leg at White Hart Lane."
Mats Hummels (Captain): "It's a golden opportunity, everything that we had imagined in the Europa League and the next crunch encounter after Porto. We are very happy with the draw. I think we've got a good chance of progressing, but to do so we have to produce the goods".
I particularly like Tuchel's comments – not only because he is gracious in acknowledging the importance of this series, but also because of his comments about meeting Mauricio Pochettino. But you can tell from all of these quotes that there is a massive amount of respect afforded to Tottenham by everyone at Borussia Dortmund. They recognize how good Spurs are and they're not looking past them.
Dortmund has been one of the most exciting teams in world football over the past five years. Under Jurgen Klopp, Dortmund won two Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012, and finished second behind powerhouse Bayern Munich the two years following. While they had a blip last season – Klopp's last – finishing seventh in the table, they're back up to 2nd under Thomas Tuchel and would be worthy contenders in this year's Champions League, much less in the Europa League. This is a whale of a team, and while it will undoubtedly be one of the toughest challenges Spurs have faced this season, I'm absolutely quivering with anticipation.