Tottenham Hotspur are in Germany today preparing to take on Borussia Dortmund, the second-placed team in the Bundesliga and one of the more exciting teams to watch from the continent. Tomorrow's Europa League clash promises to be an exciting one, not just because it features two young, exciting teams with new managers and high-tempo pressing styles. But because there's guaranteed to be mind-blowing scenes from the stands at the Westfalonstadion.
But despite Dortmund being all "in the news" and "good at football" and stuff like that, I confess that I haven't seen them play nearly as often as I perhaps should at this stage of my football fandom. Spurs are my football obsession, and I only have room in my life for one obsession.
So this is a prime opportunity to have a chat with Brian Meyers, the Managing Editor of Fear the Wall, SB Nation's Dortmund blog. (Yes, SBN has a Dortmund blog! You should really check it out. It's very yellow.) Brian gave me the low-down on the impending match and what life in Dortmund is like after Jurgen Klopped off to Liverpool. And in return, I answered some questions for him on their blog.
CFC: Tottenham supporters are either completely terrified or irrationally excited about the idea of taking on Dortmund tomorrow. How do Dortmund fans feel about Spurs?
FTW: Confident but wary. We know you are the second best team left in this competition and the fans really want this trophy. Most who don't follow the EPL were actually surprised to see Tottenham so high up in the table this year given how we rarely see them in the Champions League.
CFC: It's never easy to lose a manager as universally loved as Jurgen Klopp. How's life under Thomas Tuchel, and what are the main differences between them, both in terms of tactics and personality?
FTW: Tuchel doesn't play the gegenpressing that Klopp was famous for as much, but it is still a part of the game plan. We've relied a lot on possession and tactical adjustments under TT, whereas Klopp was faster and didn't like to mess with our shape as much. When it comes to personality, both managers go nuts on the sideline which has become the BVB way cause of Klopp. Also both managers don't wear suits which the fans love. They probably have similar personalities because they both took the BVB job after being the coach of Mainz, a so-called "Carnival Club" that prides itself on fun.
CFC: As a Spurs fan (OH SORRY, DID THAT SLIP OUT?) how do you reconcile your two favorite teams playing each other in a major competition?
FTW: I love Spurs but BVB will always be my first and most important love. I never actually thought these two teams would play each other because BVB has been so good since I started following the team and Spurs have been... Spurs. [Editor's note: that's fair.] My friends suggested I should do one of those terrible half and half jerseys but that's not happening.
CFC: These are two teams known for keeping possession when possible, counter pressing, and hitting fast on counterattacks. How will Dortmund set up tactically to counter Spurs' offensive threat?
FTW: You are right, we're going to rely on keeping possession and hitting you on the break as we do most teams. I think Tuchel will try to get his players to play wide in this game as one of Spurs big weaknesses is their fullbacks. We'll probably play our normal 4-2-3-1 and shift forward if the game stays tied.
CFC: Whom do you fear most on this Tottenham Hotspur team, and how will Dortmund deal with them?
FTW: The Spurs player that worries me most is Dele Alli and not just because of his wonder goal. The EPL is way more physical than the Bundesliga and Alli is more physical than most EPL players. Many BVB players are injury prone and Dele will be aggressive as possible on defense. Also on offence he tends to be a midfield wrecking ball, free flowing anywhere to make him a constant threat. Hopefully the only other U21 midfielder in the world as good as Alli will mark him down. When I say that I mean our very own Julian Weigl.
CFC: What are the chances that Dortmund rotates their squad for the first leg of the Europa League? And if so, whom do you rest?
FTW: I think we'll play the best XI we have. Tuchel may make tactical rotations, but don't expect us to sit Marco Reus or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang unless they pick up knocks before the game. The only player we have out from our first XI is Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Sven Bender or Matthias Ginter fit in very nicely alongside Mats Hummels at CB.
CFC: Dortmund are, improbably, only five points behind Bayern in the Bundesliga table (similar to how Spurs are five points behind Leicester). Do you have any reasonable hopes or expectations that you can catch up to them?
FTW: No not really. Bayern don't drop many points and we'd need to be near perfect to get them. There's always next year.
CFC: Can we expect any awesome new tifo for when Spurs visit?
FTW: 100%, spurs are the first British side we ever played so we may see something about that.
CFC: Finally, let's have a score prediction.
FTW: 3-1 to the home side. Auba with two and Mkhi with one. Kane scores your lone goal
Brian is a Spurs fan who somehow talked himself into being Managing Editor at a Dortmund blog. (Just kidding, Brian!) Fear the Wall is one of SB Nation's Dortmund blog, and the newest addition to the SBN family. They do great work over there. Give them a follow at @FearTheWall and wish them luck tomorrow.