Champions League: 'Energised' Spurs ready for Dortmund test

The Tottenham boss claimed over the weekend that the extra day of rest for Borussia Dortmund could put his team at a “massive disadvantage” in the first leg at Wembley.

Champions League: 'Energised' Spurs ready for Dortmund test

Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham has shaken off the fatigue from its gruelling schedule as the side prepares to face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.

Pochettino was frustrated that Tottenham had to play its Premier League match against Leicester on Sunday, while Dortmund was in action 24 hours earlier against Hoffenheim.

The Tottenham boss claimed over the weekend that the extra day of rest for the Bundesliga leaders could put his team at a “massive disadvantage” in the first leg at Wembley.

READ | Pochettino not surprised by Sancho's rise at Dortmund

Adding to Pochettino's frustration, Dortmund has also benefited from a refreshing winter break, while Tottenham has been damaged by injuries to Harry Kane and Dele Alli following the draining Christmas and New Year programme.

But, aware of the dangers of giving his players a ready-made excuse for under-performing, Pochettino was keen to accentuate the positive.

“I've described before, or in the last few days, that it was a little bit unfair (the schedule),” Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday.

“But that is not an excuse (not) to arrive tomorrow in our best condition and fight to try to win. I think you can feel in the eyes of the players the energy.”

Tottenham beat Dortmund twice in the Champions League group stage last season but it will face more formidable opponent this time.

Dortmund sits on top of the Bundesliga with a vibrant squad including young England forward Jadon Sancho.

READ | Dier trains with Spurs ahead of Dortmund game

Pochettino is well aware of the threat posed by the Germans as he tries to lead Tottenham into the quarterfinals of a European competition for the first time in his five-year reign.

But, despite the absence of Kane and Alli, it has reeled off four successive wins to stay in the Premier League title race.

Sancho has seven goals and nine assists in 21 Bundesliga appearances this season.   -  Bongarts

 

South Korean star Heung-min Son has led the line effectively for Spurs in Kane's absence. He has 11 goals in the Premier League and recorded five assists, including eight strikes in as many league outings.

And Pochettino expects his side to rise to the occasion in the same never-say-die style it displayed in the group stage this term.

Sancho steps up

With top-scorer and chief playmaker Marco Reus out injured Dortmund will face Tottenham without one of its best player.

Reus has scored 17 goals and created 11 more for the Bundesliga leader this season, but is absent for the last 16, with a thigh strain.

However, it is not just Reus who will be missing against Spurs.

READ | Sancho out to prove a point against Tottenham

Right-back Lukasz Piszczek is out with a heel injury, stand-in centre-back Julian Weigl has flu and striker Paco Alcacer is sidelined by a shoulder injury.

Reus injured his thigh last Tuesday while drilling home a direct free-kick against Werder Bremen, but Dortmund lost on penalties as the German Cup tie finished 3-3 after extra time.

In his absence, Sancho, 18, already a full England international, has taken over playmaking duties and was outstanding in scoring a goal, setting up two more and hitting the post against Hoffenheim before Dortmund leaked three late goals.