The Tottenham Hotspurs, Borussia Dortmund, Ajax Amsterdam, and Real Madrid are aiming for a good start into the first leg of the knockout stage in the UEFA Champions League.
Is the first leg against Borussia Dortmund (BVB) this afternoon going to be the foundation for the next cup drop out of the Tottenham Hotspurs? In the Premier League, they seem self-assured with four consecutive wins, but recently, the Spurs experienced massive setbacks losing to Chelsea FC (2:4) and Crystal Palace (2-0) in the League Cup and FA Cup. Additionally, the Spurs are missing star striker Harry Kane (4 goals in the competition), as well as offensive midfielder Dele Alli. In the press conference after the 3:1 victory against Leicester City, team manager Mauricio Pochettino called the schedule of the past game day a “massive, massive disadvantage” for his team. While Dortmund played on Saturday, Tottenham had to perform on Sunday. Nevertheless, the Argentinian reveals, “We believe that we can beat them. We believe that we are going to give our best.”
The young guns from the Borussia are flying to the White Hart Lane without star player and captain Marco Reus who has some thigh issues. Even though Dortmund conquers the first spot in the Bundesliga (5 points ahead of permanent winner Bayern Munich), the team showed some defensive uncertainties in the last three games. The 3:3 draw at home versus TSG Hoffenheim was the third match in a row in which the BVB gave away a lead. Last Tuesday, the leader of the Bundesliga even got kicked out of the German DFB-Cup in the round of 16 by Werder Bremen (2:4 i.p.).
Simultaneously, a strong Real Madrid is approaching Amsterdam Arena to take over Ajax Amsterdam. The Galacticos, who secured the Champions League trophy the last three years in a row, will be confident in their presentation considering the 1:3 away victory at city rival Atletico Madrid. With that win, Real passed Atletico in the La Liga ranking being second now. Even though Los Blancos were not performing as good in the group phase considering the two losses to ZSKA Moscow, they will be prepared to enter the quarterfinals.
The big question is if the Ajax defense, led by 19-year old super talent Mattijs De Ligt, will be strong enough to hold back top players like Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema, and Luka Modric? In the last three Eredivisie games, the Ajax defense received seven goals. On Saturday, the Dutch lost 1:0 at Heracles Almelo. Nevertheless, Ajax’s group performance (2 points behind Bayern Munich) is promising for a hot battle against Real Madrid.