Tottenham Hotspur host Borussia Dortmund at Wembley on Wednesday in one of the most intriguing games in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
[ MORE: UCL Tuesday roundup ]
Spurs and Dortmund are on an equal footing on many levels with both Mauricio Pochettino and Peter Bosz leading young, hungry squads to challenge for domestic titles and have hopes of making a deep UCL run with their finely-tuned, high-pressing styles the envy of others across Europe.
Two golden-boot winners will be on show at Wembley with Harry Kane leading Spurs’ charge from the front and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang the main man for Dortmund, but a whole host of other key battles will take place between the Premier League and Bundesliga teams.
Below is a closer look at the three key battles which will determine the outcome of this game.
Harry Kane vs. Neven Subotic
It is September so Kane is in full flow having scored twice against Everton last time out and that is a bad news for a Dortmund defense who are missing Marcel Schmelzer, Marc Bartra and potentially Neven Subotic. Kane and Co. will fancy their chances of pressing high on Dortmund’s defense early on and the likes of Sokratis and Omer Toprak may struggle to cope with the mobility of Spurs’ main forward. We all know that Kane is capable of scoring any type of goal and Dortmund’s defense will have to be wary of him dropping deep, drifting wide and then cutting inside.
Ben Davies vs. Christian Pulisic
Ah, Das American. Pulisic, still just 18 years old, is likely to have a key role in this game and he will likely start on the right of Dortmund’s attack. That means he will be up against second-choice left back (Danny Rose remains out with a knee injury) Ben Davies with Spurs expected to play in a 3-4-3 formation. Pulisic, as all USMNT fans know, loves to pick up the ball wide and drift inside and you just feel that with constant links to a move to the Premier League, this is a chance for him to prove his quality against PL opponents. Davies is solid and steady and will get forward but defends first. The Welsh international will provide a stern test for Pulisic but the American playmaker will see this as a battle he can easily win.
Toby Alderweireld vs. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
On his day there a few better center backs in Europe than Alderweireld. The same can be said about Aubameyang when it comes to strikers. This should be one heck of a battle with both imposing physically and Aubameyang able to hold the ball up and bring others into play. Alderweireld is more than comfortable following a forward out of the back line and if he wins the ball often enough the ball-playing Belgian can stride into midfield and start attacks. Aubameyang has a knack of being in the right place at the right time but Alderweireld reads the game superbly and along with Davinson Sanchez and Jan Vertonghen, they will deny space for Aubameyang to turn and link up with Dortmund’s playmakers.