Borussia Dortmund's preparations for the Champions League last 16 clash at Tottenham Hotspur today have been far from ideal. First captain Marco Reus injured his thigh and then coach Lucien Favre was forced to miss Saturday's Bundesliga home game with Hoffenheim with illness. The team threw away a three-goal lead to draw 3-3.
The young side remains at the top in Germany but the second-half capitulation against Hoffenheim was the first sign that the pressure may be getting to them. Favre was well enough to travel to England for the first leg at Wembley after influenza but Reus will miss out.
Dortmund can at least console themselves with the fact that Spurs will also be missing their top forwards Harry Kane and Dele Alli, while they, not the Premier League side, boast an Englishman in top form.
Jadon Sancho scored the opener and was electric against Hoffenheim. The 18-year-old is also no stranger to Wembley having played there for England and has done his homework on the previous group stage clashes between the sides last term. "Last time we lost against Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley but I think we have improved this season. It could be a little bit harder for them this time. Some good players are missing out, we will try to take advantage of that," he told reporters.
Former England striker Tony Woodcock played in both countries and is intrigued to see a young English player plying his trade in the Bundesliga. Sancho left Manchester City with first-team chances limited because of a raft of foreign talent. "This game will be very interesting. Especially because Jadon Sancho plays for Dortmund and all eyes will be on him. The English media will be watching him closely," the 63-year-old told the Funke media group. "In England young players get few chances to play at clubs and develop. Despite this most have stayed in England in recent years," added Woodcock, who believes the financial rewards in the Premier League are the reason why few have followed Sancho's path. "That's not easy. But Jadon Sancho is proving at Dortmund that making the move can be worthwhile. He is playing so well that it will pay off financially."
Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl has been operating as an emergency center back of late but he is ruled out with flu while Mario Goetze looks set to lead the line with Paco Alcacer out with a shoulder problem. Defender Lukasz Piszczek misses out with a foot injury.
The video assistant referee system will be in use in Europe for the first time for the two teams.