Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur
Live on BT Sport 2
Both Dortmund and Tottenham are still in with a shout of league title glory, but their desire to win the Europa League is also strong. Whoever comes through this potentially absorbing tie has just two hurdles left between themselves and the final in Basel.
Dortmund were involved in a mentally and physically draining clash with German champions and Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday, a gripping chess match in which neither team could find the winning solution. The result leaves Thomas Tuchel's men five points off the top, but considering BVB started the campaign merely aiming for a top-three finish, it's a position they'll gleefully accept.
Just a few hours before Der Klassiker, Spurs had their own crunch match, as they played out a 2-2 draw at home to north London rivals Arsenal. The result was disappointing given that Tottenham led with quarter of an hour left against ten men, but just like Dortmund, Spurs would've accepted being five points off top spot with nine games to go if you'd offered that position to them in pre-season.
Both coaches, Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino, have done wonderful jobs with their respective clubs. Tuchel replaced BVB legend Jurgen Klopp, and has made the team more controlled when they have the ball, and more tactically adaptable. Much has been made of the 103 goals that Dortmund have scored in all competitions, and that's quite right, but Dortmund are also starting to look strong in defence too. Midfielders Ilkay Gundogan and Julian Weigl control games in midfield, while centre-back and skipper Mats Hummels has returned to something approaching his best form. Dortmund have kept eight clean sheets in their last ten games, including two shut-outs against Champions League dropouts Porto in the last 32.
This solid platform allows the attacking players to thrive. Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan has scored 14 goals and set up 13 more, striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has smashed in 29 goals in all competitions, while Marco Reus has recovered from an uncertain start to be involved in 16 goals.
Spurs have also caught the eye this term. They blew Fiorentina away 3-0 in the second leg of their last-32 tie, and they have only lost once in this season's competition. Pochettino has marshalled his resources cleverly, and for all Tottenham's attacking talent (only Leicester City and Manchester City have scored more goals in the Premier League), they are also tough to beat. Spurs have only lost four of their 29 Premier League games, including just two defeats on the road.
Spurs are still without defender Jan Vertonghen and forward Clinton N'Jie, while impressive young midfielder Dele Alli is suspended. Dortmund's only real concern is over Greek defender Sokratis, who has a groin injury.
I can't get excited about backing Dortmund to win at 1.654/6 against quality opposition, even though BVB have only dropped four points at home in the Bundesliga this season.
There is plenty of firepower on both sides, but Dortmund will be wary of conceding an away goal ahead of a tricky trip to White Hart Lane, and they have been keeping plenty of clean sheets. Spurs have based their season on being well-organised and tough to beat, and Pochettino will go to Germany with a gameplan.
I suspect it could be an evening where the likes of Hummels and Toby Aldeweireld shine, and I like the look of backing Under 2.5 Goals at 2.186/5. That bet has paid out in eight of Dortmund's last ten matches in all competitions, and with both teams having plenty of respect for the other, it's a wager worth making again.
Back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.186/5