Since losing Harry Kane and Dele Alli to injury in January, Spurs have done remarkably well to stay within touching distance of the top two in the Premier League. Having said that, the fixture list has been kind to them, and they haven’t been tested by quality opposition.
That’s set to change on Wednesday night when Dortmund travel to Wembley.
The Germans have been sensational this season and look set to end Bayern Munich’s six-year dominance of the Bundesliga. They also topped a group which included Atletico Madrid, beating the Spanish side 4-0 in Dortmund.
Their attack oozes quality and it’s difficult to see Tottenham keeping them out, with the likes of Jadon Sancho and Paco Alcacer enjoying eye-catching seasons.
There are two silver linings for Tottenham, however. One is that Dortmund will be without their captain Marco Reus for the trip to London. Reus has been world class for years, but injuries have prevented him from reaching his potential. He has stayed largely injury free this season, however, and has been involved in 28 goals in 27 games. Dortmund will certainly miss their talisman and his absence levels the playing field.
The other silver lining for Spurs is that Dortmund are enduring something of a dip of late. Disappointing draws with Eintracht Frankfurt and Hoffenheim sandwiched a midweek cup defeat to Werder Bremen and the draw with Hoffenheim saw Dortmund throw away a three-goal lead with just 15 minutes remaining.
Taking that into account, a draw seems the most likely result on Wednesday, although there should be goals.
Pick: Draw – 23/10
If this tie had been played when the draw was made, Real Madrid would be in serious danger of being dumped out by their Dutch opponents. Ajax were undefeated in the group stages of the Champions League and dropped just five points in the Eredivisie before Christmas, but have stuttered somewhat in the new year, winning just one their last four games. They had also conceded just eight league goals before the winter break but conceded 10 goals in two games against Heerenveen and Feyenoord.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, have experienced a major resurgence in 2019 thanks in no small part to the removal of Julen Lopetegui as manager. It’s fair to say Lopetegui’s tenure was an unmitigated disaster and that Real Madrid are only now recovering from the trainwreck shows the extent of the damage done.
Madrid stumbled through the group stages of the Champions League and were embarrassed at home by CSKA Moscow, but as a rule of thumb they are a different proposition in the knock out stages and this year should be no different, Saturday’s dismantling of Atletico Madrid is proof that Real are hitting top gear.
Karim Benzema seems to also have experienced a renaissance under Santiago Solari, scoring six times in his last five games, while the Galacticos other heavy hitters seem to be finally getting over the loss of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite both sides’ recent form, this won’t be an easy game for the 13-time champions, especially in Amsterdam. Ajax boast a number of extremely promising players and have a healthy mix of experience and youth. Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs De Ligt are turning heads, while Dusan Tadic has impressed since moving from Southampton.
Ajax have found the net a staggering 72 times in just 21 Eredivisie games and simply love scoring goals this season.
All things considered, this won’t be an easy task for the Spanish giants, but they should sneak an away victory even if they do concede in the process.