Tottenham v Borussia Dortmund: Even without Kane and Reus, expect goals
There's a mouthwatering clash at Wembley on Wednesday, and our Bundesliga expert Kevin Hatchard thinks Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund will produce an exhilarating encounter...
"Dortmund have just played out a pair of 3-3 draws, while the majority of Tottenham's games in the Champions League in the last couple of seasons have featured three goals or more."
Tottenham Hotspur v Borussia Dortmund
Wednesday February 13, 20:00
Live on BT Sport 2
Spurs digging in without captain Kane
For all the somewhat harsh talk of Spurs being a team that fails when the pressure is really on, they have shown a steely streak in recent weeks. A three-match winning run in the Premier League has kept them in the title race, and while they haven't won any of those games convincingly (late winners against Watford and Newcastle, and they only finished off Leicester right at the end), they have displayed great fighting spirit.
With talismanic striker Harry Kane on the sidelines, Heung-Min Son and Christian Eriksen have stepped up. Eriksen came up with a goal and an assist against the Foxes, while Son has scored in all three of those Premier League victories. Son was always a talented player in the Bundesliga for Hamburg and Bayer Leverkusen, but the step up in consistency is what has seen him jump up a level or two. You now expect excellence, rather than waiting for the next glimpse of it.
Dortmund under Lucien Favre are a different proposition to last season's Peter Bosz/Peter Stoger horror show, and many of the BVB players that featured in Tottenham's two wins over Die Schwarzgelben have left or are nowhere near the first team. That said, there'll be no fear factor for Spurs, especially when you consider they have won 10 of their last 12 matches at Wembley.
Stuttering Dortmund facing test of character
In this incredible season, Borussia Dortmund have passed so many difficult tests. They beat German champions Bayern Munich in Der Klassiker, coming from behind twice to do so. They went to RB Leipzig, a team that hadn't been beaten at home in the Bundesliga, and won 1-0 with a superb rearguard action. They also visited their bitter rivals Schalke in the Revierderby, a fixture that fails to respect form or league placing, and they took maximum points.
Dortmund are five points clear at the summit of the Bundesliga table, and they topped a Champions League group that included Atletico Madrid, but this has been a tough week for them. They were dumped out of the DFB Cup on penalties by Werder Bremen after twice blowing the lead in extra time of a 3-3 draw, and then they somehow squandered a 3-0 lead to draw 3-3 at home to Hoffenheim in the league.
Dortmund made some bad mistakes in defence against Hoffenheim. Abdou Diallo failed to clear the ball as Ishak Belfodil made it 3-1, Achraf Hakimi lost Pavel Kaderabek entirely for the second goal, and more dozy defending at a set play allowed Belfodil to grab the equaliser. Spurs will have noted those errors with interest, but the return to midfield of battler Thomas Delaney will help to screen that defence, and he'll be stationed alongside the outstanding Axel Witsel. Belgian international Witsel has been right up there with Marco Reus when it comes to Dortmund's top performers.
Teenage Englishman Jadon Sancho was outstanding against Hoffenheim, and his consistency has been remarkable. The winger has scored seven goals and set up nine more in the Bundesliga, and playing at Wembley will hold no fears for a player that has already caught the eye there in an England shirt.
The loss of skipper Marco Reus to injury is a huge blow. He has led from the front this term, and has been the best player in the Bundesliga. A thigh injury has prevented him from being involved, so Tottenham won't have to face a player that has scored 13 league goals and made another six. Julian Weigl, who has flu, won't be able to feature at centre-back, and supersub striker Paco Alcacer is also absent.
Spurs a little too short to take first-leg lead
Given Dortmund's injury issues in attack and defence and their somewhat chaotic week, I can understand why Spurs are favourites to win, even without Harry Kane. However, [2.38] seems too short to me.
Dortmund have only lost two games inside 90 minutes all season, a 2-1 reverse at Fortuna Dusseldorf and a 2-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid. Sancho is in mesmerising form, are there are plenty of attacking options to at least partially mitigate the loss of Reus. Bear in mind that without Reus, Dortmund have still scored six goals in their last two games.
If you're determined to have a bet on the result, you could do a lot worse than back Draw or Away in the Double Chance market at [1.7].
Dortmund's style means goals are on the cards
Borussia have played breathtaking attacking football all season, and given their recent defensive frailty, coach Lucien Favre may feel that attack is the best form of defence at Wembley. Seven of their last ten games have featured three goals or more, and they are the Bundesliga's top scorers with 54 goals racked up in 21 games.
Tottenham have seen nine of their last 13 games contain at least three goals, and 13 of their last 16 Champions League matches have seen an Over 2.5 Goals bet land.
I'll go for Over 2.5 Goals at [1.85].
Son an old thorn in Dortmund's side
Heung-Min Son has played Dortmund ten times, and has scored eight goals. Given his recent form and the prominence he'll have in the attack in the absence of Kane, I'll back him to score here at [2.3].
Jadon Sancho scored a superb goal at the weekend, and is [3.75] to score. Axel Witsel comes up with big goals in big games, has scored five goals in all competitions, and is certainly worth considering at [4.4].
Back Over 2.5 Goals at [1.85]
Back Heung-Min Son to score at [2.3]