Tottenham Hotspur will host Bundesliga side BVB Dortmund in their first group stage match of the Champions League this Wednesday. It’s not hyperbole to say that if Spurs want to somehow escape the Group of Death that is Group H, this match could already be considered a must-win. The recipe is simple: don’t lose at home, and try and nick as many points on the road as possible under very difficult circumstances.
We all remember what happened the last time Spurs played Dortmund: a 5-1 aggregate blowout in the 2015-16 Europa League Round of 16. But a lot has changed since then. Spurs were outclassed by a Thomas Tuchel-led Dortmund side two years ago, but are now are coming off of two Premier League title chases and the gap between the sides has probably narrowed somewhat.
So what will the two sides look like on Wednesday? Here are our predictions.
Tottenham Hotspur predicted lineup
Mauricio Pochettino clearly had an eye to Wednesday when he submitted his starting XI at Goodison Park, and we can infer a couple of things from that lineup as we look ahead to the Champions League.
The omission of Mousa Dembele was clearly to rest him for Wednesday, since we know that Moose isn’t really able to play more than one match a week. Son Heung-Min was also rested until the end, almost certainly because Dele Alli will not feature in the match due to suspension.
There are a few iron men in Pochettino’s squad: we expect the back three of Toby Alderweireld, Davinson Sanchez, and Jan Vertonghen to persist on Wednesday. Harry Kane is a lock, as is Christian Eriksen, though don’t be surprised if we see a Fernando Llorente cameo late in the game. Also, Ben Davies will go another full 90 because there isn’t anyone behind him, as will Eric Dier in the absence of Victor Wanyama. However, Trippier going the distance on Saturday probably means we can expect a Spurs debut from Serge Aurier at Wembley.
Here’s our best guess for Spurs’ starting lineup.
Dortmund predicted lineup
I haven’t watched a whole lot of Dortmund this season, so in my ignorance I reached out to Fear the Wall managing editor (and Spurs fan!) Brian Meyers.
Dortmund have a bit of an injury crisis going on after left back Marcel Schmelzer and starting defender Marc Bartra were both injured in a scoreless draw with Freiburg this past weekend. Both are expected to miss the match on Wednesday. They’re already without Marco Reus, Raphael Guerreiro, Andre Schurrle, Erik Durm and Sebastian Rode.
That said, there’s still plenty to be afraid of in Dortmund’s attack: Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang is still one of the best strikers in football, and he’ll have America’s great soccer hope Christian Pulisic behind him. Nuri Sahin and Gonzalo Castro will likely form Dortmund’s pivot.
The defense is a bit piecemeal, but Dortmund should still be formidable opponents at Wembley Stadium. This is Brian’s predicted BVB lineup.
Thoughts? Suggestions? Do you think we got anything wrong? Have your say in the comments.