Tottenham Hotspur visit Borussia Dortmund on Thursday night for the first leg of their Europa League last 16 affair, in a tie which many have suggested will produce the winner of the competition.
Similarities in domestic competitions
With Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel expressing his excitement ahead of the two-legged tie, claiming his North London competitors have “impressed with their season so far”, there are some unavoidable similarities between the two sides.
Both have enjoyed successful campaigns in their respective domestic leagues so far this season, with both sitting comfortably in second position just five points behind the pace setters in the Premier League and Bundesliga.
The recent round of fixtures saw both Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham Hotspur face arguably the biggest games of their season. Dortmund were left frustrated as league leaders Bayern Munich left the Westfalenstadion with a share of the spoils.
Tottenham, on the other hand, welcomed North London rivals Arsenal to White Hart Lane with the hope of moving to the top of the league for a couple of hours at least. However, like Dortmund, Pochettino’s men were left thinking of what might have been as Arsenal snatched a point late on.
With domestic action moving to the back of their minds for a few days this week, both sides will be hoping progression in the Europa League will add some vital end of season impetus towards their respective title pushes.
How they made it this far
Having both qualified comfortably from their Europa League groups, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund were both handed difficult looking fixtures in the round of 32.
Despite two-legged ties against Fiorentina of Italy and Porto of Portugal respectively, pundits were left shocked at the relative ease both sides progressed to eventually meet in the round of 16 upon us.
Tottenham held Fiorentina to a 1-1 draw in Florence before demolishing the high flying Italian giants 3-0 at White Hart Lane in late February.
Dortmund were given the task of overcoming UEFA Champions League regulars Porto, the former winners of both European competitions, in a tie which would not have looked out of place in front of millions on a Tuesday evening.
Leaving the Westfalenstadion in the first leg with a 2-0 victory, denying Porto a vital away goal, the former Bundesliga champions made the trip to Portugal just as enjoyable as they ran out 3-0 victors on aggregate over the two legs.
Tottenham make the trip to face BVB with a number of regular starters missing due to injury or fatigue. Danny Rose picked up a knock in the draw with Arsenal on Saturday early afternoon and will likely be replaced by Welsh international Ben Davies at left back.
England international midfielders Dele Alli and Eric Dier both failed to make the trip to Germany due to suspension and a much needed rest respectively. With fixtures getting back underway in the Premier League at the weekend, Pochettino can be forgiven for having one eye on a potential title bid closer to home.
Probable line-up: Lloris; Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies; Bentaleb, Carroll; Lamela, Eriksen, Son; Chadli
A difficult looking tie to call
With both sides playing a high intensity pressing game, built around enviable pace on the break, it will be interesting to see how Tuchel and Pochettino look to combat similar threats posed by the oppositions attack.
Tottenham are likely to rest top goalscorer Harry Kane whilst Borussia Dortmund will play a full strength side with the hope of finishing the contest early in the first leg.
However, if Tottenham can grab that all important away goal, the tie may just develop into one of the recent European greats.