Tottenham Hotspur continue their pursuit of a domestic and European double with an eagerly anticipated Europa League last-16 first leg tie against Borussia Dortmund in Germany on Thursday.
Dortmund are one of Europe’s best-supported clubs and play in the 81,300-capacity Westfalenstadion.But how are the 2013 Champions League runners-up coping with life after Jurgen Klopp? Who is their main threat? What are they saying in Germany about Tottenham?Here, we take a look at what awaits Tottenham in Westphalia.
Replacing long-serving and successful boss Klopp was always going to be a challenge but in Thomas Tuchel Dortmund have learned to have fun again.Despite winning two Bundesliga titles, one German Cup and reaching the 2013 Champions League final, Klopp’s final year was difficult – Dortmund finishing 33 points behind champions Bayern Munich in seventh place.Tuchel, polite but far less of an extrovert than Klopp in his interviews, is regarded as one of Germany’s top coaches.The 42-year-old set a new club record at Mainz by winning the first seven league matches of the 2010-11 season before standing down from his post in 2014 after leading them to their highest Bundesliga finish.
After taking 12 months out, Tuchel started his Dortmund reign with five straight league wins and they enter the latter stage of the season in the running for silverware.Despite failing to defeat Bayern Munich in ‘Der Klassiker’ on Saturday, they are second in the table, five points behind the leaders. In addition to the Europa League, Dortmund are also through to the semi-finals of the German Cup.Tuchel’s dealings in the transfer market have also been impressive – goalkeeper Roman Burki and young midfielder Julian Weigl were low-key arrivals but both have both been influential.
The goal threat
Tottenham will be hoping there are no somersault celebrations in the Westfalenstadion. If there are it will undoubtedly mean Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has scored.African Football’s 2015 player of the year has 22 Bundesliga goals this season. Having left AC Milan without making a senior league appearance, Aubameyang is now one of the most feared forwards in Europe’s top five leagues.The Gabon international has two hat-tricks this season, including one against Azerbaijan’s Qabala in the Europa League.
His goals have seen him linked with moves to Arsenal and Barcelona, but speaking in January Aubameyang said: “I still want to achieve lots with Dortmund.”I am here and nowhere else – not at Arsenal, not at Barcelona, not on the moon – you can see that.”
What they are saying
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino: “There are some similarities between ourselves and Borussia Dortmund. It’s exciting for us to play against them. Now it’s all about making the right decision and picking the 11 players to compete in the best way.”
Dortmund manager Thomas Tuchel: “It’s a super draw. It’s super tough, but also super attractive. We’ve got two exciting games to look forward to. I’m personally really looking forward to meeting a special coach and also the special atmosphere in the second leg at White Hart Lane.”
Dortmund captain Mats Hummels: “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. It’s a golden opportunity, everything that we had imagined in the Europa League and the next crunch encounter after Porto.”