UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
ROUND OF 16 (1st leg)
THURSDAY 10TH MARCH, 2016
BORUSSIA DORTMUND 3(1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 0(0)
Reus, 61, 70
Referee:- Cuneyt Cakir
Assistants:- Bahattin Duran & Tarik Ongun
Additional assistants:- Huseyin Gocek & Baris Simsek
Fourth official:- Cem Satman
(All officials from Turkey)
Dortmund (3-3-2-1-1):- Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Bender (sub Subotic, 58), Hummels; Durm, Weigl, Schmelzer; Mkhitaryan, Castro; Reus (sub Ramos, 82); Aubameyang (sub Kagawa, 82)
Subs not used:- Burki; Ginter; Leitner, Sahin
Spurs (4-2-3-1):- Lloris (Capt.); Trippier, Alderweireld, Wimmer, Davies; Mason, Carroll; Onomah, Eriksen (sub Lamela, 65), Son (sub Kane, 76); Chadli (sub Dembele, 58)
Subs not used:- Vorm; Walker, Carter-Vickers; Bentaleb
Booked:- Carroll (foul on Schmelzer), Lamela (foul on Weigl)
They wore yellow. We surrendered.
Some 3,400 die-hard Spurs fans travelled to the magnificent Westfalenstadion in the hope of seeing their team put up a decent show against a team that is in great form (now unbeaten in 12 games), and who are a convincing second in the Bundesliga. Those Spurs fans were firstly astounded at a very weak team selection against such a good side in a difficult venue, and then dismayed by a weak and gutless performance which allowed the home side to over-run and outclass them, racking up a convincing 3-0 win.
The scoreline could have been more. Spurs had done well to be only 1-0 down at the end of a first half in which they had been totally dominated, with Hugo Lloris's goal being constantly pressured, whilst Spurs hardly got out of their own half, let alone give the Dortmund keeper any real trouble.
Mauricio Pochettino's team selection clearly indicated his priority to move on with his team's challenge on the Premier League. Even with our next game against lowly Aston Villa, he chose to rest players ( and Eric Dier was so sorely missed tonight in front of the defence), fielding a team which might have beaten Villa, but stood no chance here.
This was my first visit to the "BVB"'stadium, which has a reduced capacity for European games, but which can hold 80,000. The crowd tonight was a capacity for this level, and still over 65,000. Our fans occupied one corner of the ground from bottom to top. Our seats were high up, offering us a similar view to the one at Newcastle. It was difficult to pick out the numbers of the Dortmund team, but the nature of the game, and result means I do not intend to give a blow by blow account.
"You'll never walk alone" rang out around the stadium before the game, but it wasn't sung by Gerry Marsden. A Dortmund v Liverpool tie is still on the cards, with Liverpool beating Man Utd 2-0. The local fans still idolise Jurgen Klopp, but they also have plenty of reason to admire their new coach Thomas Tuchel.
Speaking of those local fans, we found a very friendly home bar, and had a great day leading up to the game. It was distressing to hear of many Spurs fans being locked outside the ground for more than 20 minutes, when the gates were shut and apparently there had been some trouble between rival fans. Pepper spray had been used by the police. Spurs fans were still looking for their seats towards the end of the first half.
I have to say that I personally found the visit very friendly and comfortable before and after the game, with friendly stewarding and not so much overt policing.
As for that game, Dortmund lined up in a very adventurous and attacking formation, with three at the back, and wing-backs in the shape of Durm and Schmeltzer supporting Aubameyang up front and Marcus Reus, who played just off the striker who has scored so many goals already this season.
Spurs' "defensive" duo of Mason and Carroll were too light-weight to protect the back four. The strength of Pochettino's game is his use of the full backs, and neither Trippier or Davies were able to attack as much as they would like. Sadly, they were also poor defensively, with the home side often pulling us apart with their passes left, right and diagonal.
Chadli was totally ineffective up front. Son is also too lightweight for this level. Occasionally he would get the ball in a good position, but fail to use it well.
Josh Onomah was given a testing start and was arguably our best outfield player. He didn't always succeed, but he can be proud of his efforts in such a difficult game.
Spurs did have the first shot on goal, and it was Chadli who gave Eriksen the chance, but his shot was weak and easily held by the goalkeeper. Onomah battled and won a corner hitting a low cross/shot from the right which goalkeeper Weidenfeller put out at his near post.
The first of many tests for Hugo Lloris and his defence came after 5 minutes following a cross from the right by Durm, a touch by Reus and a shot by Gonzalo Castro, which passed just wide. Then Durm made a break into the box, assisted by Aubameyang, before also putting a shot just outside the post.
Aubameyang had a shot at goal land on the net after Schmelzer's cross from the left. Durm had the beating of Ben Davies, but Toby Alderweireld came to the rescue with a fine interception inside the area.
Mkhitaryan hit a shot which was well saved by Lloris diving to his left. Hugo couldn't hold the ball and in the follow-up action, the ball was stuck in the net, but the offside flag had now been raised.
Lloris soon had to come racing out to the edge of his area to take the ball off the feet of Reus.
Spurs actually managed to put a good move together after 25 minutes, with Eriksen and Son feeding Onomah who won a corner on the right, which was taken by Carroll, but straight to the keeper's hands.
Lloris parried and saved a shot by Weigl after another cross from the left by Schmelzer, but he couldn't stop Aubameyang's 30th minute header from another Schmelzer cross. The home side never looked back after that goal.
Son did have a shot deflected to win a corner, after an Eriksen pass, but at the other end, Carroll went into the book for a foul on Schmelzer, who required some treatment. Mkhitaryan had a shot blocked after a Dortmund break led by Man of the match Reus, and Spurs did have half a chance at the other end after good work by Onomah and Eriksen, but weakness on the edge of the box from Son.
We didn't see much of our Spurs at our end in the second half, as the yellow-shirted Borussia Dortmund team attacked the single-tier home end with relish. Aubameyang had a shot go just wide of the post after Mkhitaryan's pass.
Chadli was replaced by Dembele, with Son moving forward, but most of the action was at the other end, and was rewarded by a second goal on the hour. A corner was taken in the left and headed on by substitute Subotic. Marco Reus latched onto the ball at the back post and rifled it into the roof of the net.
An away goal would still have given us some hope of rescuing the tie, but 2-0 became 3-0 when Dortmund pulled our defence left and right before Reus again fired home after Castro's ball.
Son did get a shot on goal after making a decent run towards the box, but Weidenfeller held the shot. Lamela also had a shot held. I'll be honest and admit that I didn't even notice Harry Kane taking over from Son. Spurs did have a couple of penalty shouts in the second half, when players went down just inside the box, but the referee waved away any appeals.
Borussia Dortmund are on their way to Champions a League football through their league placing, as they are a convincing margin ahead of the third placed team.
One irony is that if Spurs do qualify for next season's Champions League (as they certainly should), they may have to meet this side again. They have many lessons to learn, and will need to play to a far higher level than that we saw tonight.
After the final whistle, all of the Borussia Dortmund team sat in front of the single tier stand "Die Sudtribune", which is surely a model for Spurs new stadium. The players and fans shared mutual love and respect, and it was quite a sight to behold. Many Spurs fans applauded the home players as they left the pitch, which was a gesture well-deserved and appreciated by those players.
The stadium does give some insight regarding what it will be like in the new Spurs stadium. If we can create the sort of atmosphere seem tonight, it will be a wonderful experience. For now we have to contemplate an impossible task in the home leg next Thursday.
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