With Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham side taking on the Bundesliga leaders in the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at the 5 key battles that could decide which way the game swings.
Kieran Trippier vs Raphael Guerreiro
While highly lauded for his role in England’s progression to the World Cup semi-finals earlier this year, Kieran Trippier’s limitations have been bared this season for everyone to see. While his set-piece delivery is second to none, he has been found lacking in terms of physicality on multiple occasions this season.
The image of Raheem Sterling ghosting past him in Tottenham’s fixture against Manchester City holds clear in the minds of supporters while he was ran ragged by Leicester City as recently as the last Premier League match-day.
Raphael Guerreiro’s pace is much more potent than anything Leicester had in their arsenal and given the chance, he can certainly turn the game into a nightmare for Trippier.
Heung-Min Son vs Omer Toprak
Having returned before time from his Asian Cup campaign with South Korea following an early exit, Heung-Min Son has since been carrying the weight of Spurs’s faltering title challenge almost single-handedly on his shoulders ever since.
Tucking in one goal after another, he has ensured the juggernaut keeps rolling in the absence of stalwart Harry Kane. While on paper he starts out wide, Son’s ability to ghost into space upfront has never been more apparent than this season, scoring goals at will.
Toprak on the other hand will in all probability be deputizing for Weigl who has had a torrid time in the past two game-weeks, letting in 6 goals in two games and if Spurs are to get anything from the game, Son’s battle with the center-back will be an intriguing one.
Jan Vertonghen vs Mario Gotze
Having rediscovered some form at crucial, Mario Gotze seems to be rolling back the years with compatriot Marco Reus – in a sight that spells nothing short of terror for opposition defences.
The only sticking point here is that Reus will be missing the game through injury, leaving Gotze among the only experienced attackers on pitch for Dortmund, in a side full of young forwards. Jan Vertonghen occupies a similar role in defence for Spurs, guiding the young Sanchez with consummate ease.
With Gotze’s many years of experience playing as a false nine – both for Bayern as well as Borussia, his battle with the Belgian center-back will be one of the key factors that decides the game.
Christian Eriksen vs Axel Witsel
Danish star Christian Eriksen has been in top form this season, once again and has been super-professional despite being in the midst of a contract standoff with his employers.
His cute movement between the lines is key to how Spurs link attack with defense. Axel Witsel, on the other hand is the cog around who Favre has implemented his philosophy in this new-look Dortmund team, dropping deep to start off moves and in general setting their tempo throughout.
The battle for domination in the midfield between the two superstars will perhaps be the most interesting of duels in this Champions League blockbuster.
Fernando Llorente vs Abdou Diallo
While Abdou Diallo has been in poor form of late, shipping goals and even being dropped from the starting line-up, Fernando Llorente’s recent weeks at Spurs have been the exact opposite.
The Spaniard’s form has been crucial to Spurs’s keeping pace with the leaders in the Premier League despite being at less than full-strength most of the times.
He has scored crucial goals, while chipping in with assists at the same time and even though Llorente isn’t a guaranteed starter, Diallo might well be worried if he finds the former Juventus forward’s name in the starting line-up this evening.