After being drawn in the same group as Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in this years Champions League group stage, many Spurs fans saw last night’s home game against Dortmund as the most important game of the group, even though it was gameweek 1.
Many people, including myself, see Real Madrid as the huge favourites to top the group, given the fact they are back-to-back winners of the tournament. That leaves one qualification spot free and with 4th seeds APOEL Nicosia playing in the Cypriot first divison and having the playing budget tens of millions of pounds less than the other teams in the group, I’m sure you can forgive me for thinking it’ll be between Spurs and Dortmund for the final spot.
Spurs were fantastic last night, winning the game 3-1 at Wembley in a result which not only saw us get off to the perfect start in the group, but also getting rid of that “Wembley Curse” which has been hanging over the club for a year now.
Tottenham flew out of the blocks, with Heung-Min Son lashing a thunderbolt past Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Burki’s near post to put the home side 1-0 up after 5 minutes. This was cancelled out almost straight away, with Ukranian winger Andriy Yarmolenko bending a 20 yard effort right into the top corner, leaving Hugo Lloris with no chance and silencing Wembley, apart from the pocket of 3,000 away fans who didn’t stop singing all night.
Dortmund in the early stages were excellent, piling players forward when they attacked, retaining possession and constantly looking as though they were going to add to the goal they had already scored. However, in an almost identical move to Son’s goal, Kane showed great strength to get past Nuri Sahin in midfield, closed in on goal from a tight angle and put spurs 2-1 up with a goal that will leave Dortmund goalkeeper Burki disappointed yet again, beaten at his near post. Wembley erupted – Spurs showing great fight to get back into the lead after the setback so soon after Son’s goal.
Dortmund remained dominant in the first half, completing almost 4x the amount of passes to Spurs, but failing to find a way past the excellent back 3 of Vertonghen, Alderwiereld and Sanchez. It was clear that we missed the engine of our midfield last night – Victor Wanyama – who is so important to the way we play in this system, breaking up opposition attacks and acting as a shield whilst Alli, Eriksen and co bomb forward. As good as Dier is, I get the feeling with him he’s still learning and makes questionable decisions during key moments of games.
With the second half underway, Dortmund started it as they finished the first half – lots of possession, with Aubameyang and Pulisic in particular causing our back line problems without changing the scoreline. Then, the decisive moment of the game come in the 60th minute when Kane was given the ball just outside the area, fronted up his man and finished excellently with a hard, low shot into the bottom corner to put Spurs 3-1 up and on course for a massively important victory.
The only other key moment to happen in the rest of the game was when Jan Vertonghen received a second yellow card for swinging his arm/hand into Mario Gotze’s face, subsequently seeing the Belgian get sent off and missing the away game with APOEL in 2 weeks time. A red card is always bad news, but with the 1 match ban coming against the weakest opponents in the group, it is the best that could happen given the circumstances. I suspect that Dier will drop into the back 3, with Winks/Wanyama stepping into the midfield.
Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane were, as usual, absolutely world class for Spurs, constantly looking to cause the Dortmund back line problems, which they did for the entire game. Special praise must go to the two new signings, Davinson Sanchez and Serge Aurier, who were absolutely brilliant and looked as if they had been playing for the club for many years. In particular, Aurier has become an immediate fans favourite. Quick, powerful and defensively solid, he mopped up several situations and looked composed on the ball when he had it, bursting forward with strength and power, looking to start off attacks and whip in dangerous looking crosses from the right hand side. With that performance, it seems almost certain that he is now the club’s new first choice right back, replacing Kieran Trippier who may now struggle to get into the team after watching Aurier play.
It was a huge win, which meant much more than just the 3 points which were up for grabs. With this performance and victory, the players, fans and the club in general will now head into each game at Wembley feeling if they play like they did against Dortmund, we’ll rack up the wins and give anyone a real game.
Tottenham’s next game is against Swansea City at Wembley in the 5:15 kick off on Saturday, 16 September.