Tottenham have qualified for the Champions League for the second successive season and they will now want to establish themselves in the competition. Their group is a tough one, as they will have to compete against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. It isn’t ideal, but it will be a good test of where they currently are as a team. Despite the two teams having more pedigree in Europe, Spurs have the talent to make it to the next stage.
Their record at Wembley was poor in the Champions League last season and it hasn’t improved during the opening month of the Premier League season. It is a hoodoo that has no rhyme or reason to it, but they must overcome it soon. The group draw means that Tottenham ideally need to open their campaign with a win on Wednesday against Dortmund. If they don’t, they will need to get a result in Germany or do well against Real Madrid. Both would be tricky tasks for a team that is inexperienced in the competition.
Borussia Dortmund aren’t as good as they were when they reached the final of this competition, but they are experienced in the Champions League. They are currently going through a transition phase with a new manager in Peter Bosz and a lot of young players. Tottenham are further along in their development as a team, but the Bundesliga side hold the upper hand in the head-to-head. They have met only twice before and Dortmund triumphed 5-1 over two legs in the 2015/16 Europa League. That could play on the mind of the Spurs players.
Mauricio Pochettino has overseen a decent start to the season, but their Wembley form remains a concern. They lost to Chelsea and drew to Burnley. That will be playing on the minds of the Tottenham players when they step out to face Dortmund on Wednesday. Their convincing win over Everton at the weekend will have given them momentum and they must use it.
Dortmund have had a good start to the season in Germany, but their failure to beat a ten-man Freiburg at the weekend was a worry. Under Peter Bosz, they have yet to concede a goal in competitive action and they will look to maintain that record at Wembley.
Mousa Dembele is expected to return to the team to partner Eric Dier in midfield. Serge Aurier could be given the chance to make his debut as he has more experience in this competition that Kieran Trippier. Son Heung-min is likely to replace the suspended Dele Alli.
Dan-Axel Zagadou is the player likely to come in for the injured Marcel Schmelzer and Omer Toprak will come into the heart of the defence. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored seven in this competition last season and will be crucial to Dortmund’s chances this season.
Victor Wanyama will be missing with a knee injury, but Mousa Dembele is likely to return to the starting eleven. The only fresh injury concern is Moussa Sissoko who picked up a knock against Everton. Dele Alli will be serving the first match of his European suspension and that will be a huge blow.
Marcel Schmelzer and Marc Bartra are not expected to be involved at Wembley, which creates a defensive crisis for the German. The Germans will also be without Marco Reus, Raphael Guerreiro, Andre Schurrle, Erik Durm and Sebastian Rode.
Score prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
Spurs need a big result to finally put an end to their Wembley hoodoo and it would be symbolic if it came in the Champions League, as it was in this competition that the problem was noticed. Based on the players missing for both teams, Tottenham should enter the game as favourites and Pochettino will realise the importance of this fixture, even at this early stage. They need to get a win and they should manage to get it.