In probably one of the more shocking first-leg results of the last-16, Spurs comprehensively dismantled Borussia Dortmund at White Hart Lane last month. Mauricio Pochettino’s men take a commanding 3-0 lead to the Westfalenstadion on Tuesday night. Fernando Llorente scored one of those goals, which says it all, really – and the only question now is whether or not Spurs can avoid doing a Spurs long enough not to f*ck it up.
The Londoners had been on a lovely run of league form heading into the first leg having won five of their six games since the turn of the year. However, it’s like Dortmund sapped the best out of Spurs in that game – the Lilywhites have failed to take three points since, losing to Burnley and Chelsea respectively before managing a 1-1 draw with fellow London club Arsenal at the weekend.
The irony is that this recent wobbly patch has coincided with the return from injury of top goalscorer Harry Kane. Coincidence?
Maybe Poch should drop his skipper and find out.
As for Dortmund, they were rocky enough form-wise before the first-leg and this hasn’t improved in the intervening weeks – in fact, it’s gotten worse, as they’ve continued their trend of shipping goals left and right, keeping just one clean sheet and winning only once in their last five league games. Lucien Favre’s men come into this one on the back of a 2-1 defeat by struggling FC Augsburg on Friday night.
The last time Dortmund were in the round of 16 was 2016/17 where they lost 1-0 away to Benfica but overturned this deficit with a convincing 4-0 home win in the second leg. While we don’t think they’ll bag four goals this time, we like the look of Dortmund to score at least twice in the game to give Spurs fans’ panic attacks in this mirror match of perennial chokers.
While Ajax may have scared the living bejaysus out of the defending champions in the first-leg – with Real Madrid needing an 87th-minute winner from Asensio to win the game 2-1 – the bad news for the Dutch side is that the absolute sh*thouse that is Sergio Ramos is suspended for the return meeting in the Santiago Bernabéu.
Ajax would have been banking on him to do something mental in Madrid, so there goes their best chance of a route back into the tie.
All might not be lost for Erik ten Hag’s side, though, as Real have had to endure a gauntlet since the first-leg. Of the four subsequent games they’ve played since, Santiago Solari has seen his side lose three of them – and two of these were El Clasicos against Barcelona, which they lost 3-0 and 1-0, the latter defeat taking place just on Saturday at the Bernabéu.
For the record, Madrid’s other loss in this period was to La Liga powerhouses Girona. Ramos was sent off in this game, albeit in the 90th minute. This is exactly the kind of boon Ajax would have been hoping for from that sh*thouse before he got himself deliberately suspended for Tuesday’s meeting as he admitted himself afterwards.
Anyway, since the first-leg Ajax have made it business as usual in the Netherlands, scoring 13 times in their three games since to progress in the KNVB Cup and maintain pressure on Eredivisie league leaders PSV Eindhoven. Dušan Tadić and Hakim Ziyech — who netted his side’s equalizer against Real in Amsterdam — continued their respective fine seasons with goal contributions during this period and both will be chomping at the bit to massacre Madrid.
That said, Ajax are without a win in their last seven away games in the knockout phase of the Champions League and have only tasted victory twice in their last 15 matches against Spanish opposition. With that in mind, we think it will be close but no cigar for the Dutch side as they’ll go down swinging – the European champions will also find the net to win the game on the night.
Verdict: Real Madrid to win and BTTS @13/8.
*A double on Team goals in match where Dortmund score two or more goals @ 8/11 & Real Madrid to win and both teams to score @ 13/8 pays 7/2 at time of posting.