Second-leg advantage Spurs’ big break after drawing Dortmund
Sparta Prague, Anderlecht or Braga were probably among the teams most Tottenham fans were hoping their side might be pitted against in the Europa League last 16, but tournament favourites Borussia Dortmund it was.
Those same Spurs fans can probably be excused for feeling a little apprehensive about their chance of progression now as well, despite both sides residing in second place in their respective leagues.
Seeing off the Bundesliga outfit will be no mean feat. However, said feat will at least be aided by Tottenham’s name being plucked out of the perspex bowl second, a notable advantage when it comes to knockout European football.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men just took full advantage only this week in fact, when their evenly-poised tie against high-flying Serie A outfit Fiorentina was emphatically put to bed under the lights at White Hart Lane, even without goal-mine Harry Kane to call upon.
That extended the Lilywhites’ 100 per cent Europa League record at home to four matches this season, at an aggregate score of 12-3.
Of course, the hard yards had to be put in during the first 90 minutes of action in a hostile atmosphere, but this Pochettino-edition Spurs side are nothing if not extremely willing and defensively resolute.
(Yes, defensively resolute and Spurs was just mentioned in the same breath.)
The north Londoners wouldn’t be sitting two points off the Premier League summit if that was their only strength though.
That 3-0 defeat of Fiorentina on the eve of the draw (and the healthiest goal difference in the English top-flight), demonstrates Pochettino’s skill in building a team well able to perform at both ends of the pitch.
Staying in the tie at the Signal Iduna Park, where Thomas Tuchel’s side are unbeaten in 10 Bundesliga outings, is the essential element to qualifying at Dortmund’s expense.
In this respect, they can take huge heart from PAOK Salonika’s shock 1-0 success in BVB’s backyard in the group stage.
Having been the top two in the betting before the draw, Dortmund have maintained their 7/2 favouritism, while it’s Tottenham that have drifted from 7s to 11/1.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.