Borussia Dortmund host Tottenham Hotspur under the lights at the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday night as the pressure heaps on Peter Bosz. Taking charge from Thomas Tuchel in the summer, the former Ajax head coach is yet to taste victory in Europe with his new club while their third-place hangs in the balance with the Bundesliga club on the same points as APOEL Nicosia.
Despite Dortmund’s impressive start to the Bundesliga campaign under Bosz, recent weeks have taken their toll with the German club who have won just one in their previous eight fixtures in all competitions, a 5-0 win against third tier FC Magdeburg. Their latest defeat came away to VfB Stuttgart where a defensive mix-up between Marc Bartra and Roman Bürki resulted in Chadrac Akolo putting the ball into an empty net, as Dortmund tasted their fourth league defeat of the season.
At the minute, Bosz’ future really does remain in the balance while reports in Germany suggest he has just two games to save his job, this fixture against Tottenham Hotspur and the Revierderby against Schalke 04. Something that Bosz does have going for them is that his side have found the net in each of the four Champions League games this season, while the corresponding fixture resulted in a 3-1 defeat at Wembley Stadium.
For Mauricio Pochettino and Tottenham Hotspur, fans will be hoping to put their north London derby defeat behind them, putting in a strong performance against an out-of-form Borussia Dortmund squad as they look to qualify for the knockout stages. To get four points against defending champions Real Madrid was never going to be an easy task, but Pochettino’s management of Tottenham in the Champions League this season certainly deserves plaudits.
Team news and tactics
Injuries to several key players have contributed to Borussia Dortmund’s poor run of late, but Bosz has also come in for some criticism surrounding his tactics. Conceding 20 goals in their previous ten fixtures in all competitions, Dortmund are extremely porous at the back while the attacking threat of Heung-Min Son and Dele Alli behind Harry Kane could cause Bartra & Co. problems.
Bosz did start his Dortmund campaign playing three at the back but has since reverted to 4-3-3, a formation that the Dortmund players are familiar with however, it’s just not working at the minute. The high defensive line they play exposes Bürki while they’re missing a dominant force in midfield, something that surely needs to be addressed in the January window.
For their crucial tie against Tottenham Hotspur, Bosz will be without Christian Pulisic, Sokratis, Erik Durm, Łukasz Piszczek, Sebastian Rode and Marco Reus, while 17-year-old Jadon Sancho is ineligible.
With a relatively injury free squad, Pochettino isn’t expected to alter his starting XI too much while it’s expected that he will field the same team that suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) – Suspended by Borussia Dortmund for their Bundesliga fixture against VfB Stuttgart, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is expected to return to the starting XI against Tottenham Hotspur on Tuesday night. After an impressive start to the 2017/18 campaign, the 28-year-old has failed to score in his last five games in all competitions. If Dortmund are to get anything from this fixture against a strong Spurs defence, then they’re going to need support to Aubameyang from both Maximillian Philipp and Andriy Yarmolenko.
Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur) – With 20 goals in 23 games in all competitions, Dan-Axel Zagadou and Bartra will need to keep close tabs on Harry Kane who is the goal-getter for Tottenham Hotspur. The England international has already stated he wants to remain at the London club for life, despite concrete interest from Real Madrid, while Kane could well become earn himself the Golden Boot in the Champions League if he’s able to keep his scoring run going. But for all it’s worth, if the Dortmund defence focus too much on Kane, Spurs have equally as good players that can cause just as much damage.
The form table suggests that this fixture should be three points for Tottenham Hotspur, but we all know that there aren’t many better things in football than a Champions League night at the Westfalenstadion. The result could have a huge impact on the future of Bosz at Borussia Dortmund, and the players will know that. While Champions League knockout seems extremely unlikely, they need a win to keep the pressure on APOEL for that Europe League spot. This fixture certainly has goals in it, while it might just be Dortmund’s night.
Result: Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Tottenham Hotspur.
By Daniel Pinder.