7 reasons why everybody should love Tottenham AND Borussia Dortmund
Borussia Dortmund against Tottenham might be played in the Europa League, but it is a legitimate Champions League fixture and both sides are almost certain to grace the continent's main competition next season.
Few neutrals will be disappointed to know that – and here’s why...
1. They play an attractive style
Both sides use rather similar approaches with very fluid frontlines, attack-minded full-backs and technically sound holding midfielders
When watching a game involving Tottenham or Dortmund, you are almost guaranteed it won't be boring. Both sides use rather similar approaches with very fluid frontlines, attack-minded full-backs and technically sound holding midfielders. They are not obsessed with possession, and tend to take risks in quick transition.
While both have a prolific striker enjoying a great season in Harry Kane and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, they are not dependent on him by any means and almost every player on the pitch can be potentially dangerous to opposition.
When facing each other, they are almost certain to produce a high-tempo spectacle, full of chances at both ends.
2. Two of the best young coaches around
Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Tuchel seem destined for superstardom, and the way in which they have transformed their teams is extremely impressive.
Some thought that replacing a living legend like Jurgen Klopp would be nearly impossible, but Tuchel managed to improve the team
The 44-year-old Argentine was initially greeted with scepticism in England when he replaced Nigel Adkins at Southampton in January 2013, but no one doubted him in the slightest when he was given the Spurs job in the summer of 2014. He took a team in crisis, and transformed them into title contenders within a year.
Pochettino is never afraid to promote young players, and is responsible for the outstanding progress of Kane, Dele Alli, Ryan Mason and Eric Dier.
The 42-year-old Tuchel seemingly had a very tough task on his hands when getting the Dortmund job. Some thought that replacing a living legend like Jurgen Klopp would be nearly impossible, but the truth is that Tuchel managed to improve the team.
He didn't make revolutionary changes, but rather built on the foundations left by his great predecessor, while bringing his personal touch which turned out suitable in the extreme for the players. Tuchel persuaded the stars to stay at the club in the summer, promising to improve their performances – and has done just that. On the other hand, he also likes to promote youngsters, making 20-year-old central midfielder Julian Weigl the linchpin of his side this season.
3. Plenty of charismatic stars
Kane is still genuinely delighted to score every goal, Christian Eriksen doesn't know what snobbishness is and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a role professional
Tottenham and Dortmund are full of charismatic players who even the local rivals' fans find rather difficult to hate.
How can you possibly dislike the Batman and Robin duo of Aubameyang and Marco Reus, who almost always have amusing childish smiles on their faces? The same can be said of the very cheerful nature of Alli, who looks amused with himself every time his tricks work out perfectly.
Many stars tend to be rather arrogant, but can you name such a player at any of those two teams? Kane is still genuinely delighted to score every goal, Christian Eriksen doesn't know what snobbishness is, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a role professional and Mats Hummels is everyone's idea of the perfect captain.
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4. Strong heritage
Tottenham were the first English team to win a European trophy – they lifted the Cup Winners' Cup in 1963 after thrashing Atletico Madrid 5-1 in the final. Jimmy Greaves and Terry Dyson scored braces that evening in Rotterdam, and John White – who was tragically killed by a lightning a year later – added another goal.
Under the guidance of the legendary Bill Nicholson, Spurs also won the UEFA Cup in 1972, while Keith Burkinshaw won the tournament in 1984 – a year before English clubs were banned from European competitions.
Remarkably, Dortmund are the first German club to win a European trophy as well. They also started with the Cup Winners' Cup – the great, late Stan Libuda scored the extra-time winner in the 1966 final against Bill Shankly's Liverpool. They won the Champions League in 1997 against all odds, beating heavy favourites Juventus in the final.
5. Their underdog spirit
Spurs haven't won the title in England since 1961, which gives them a look of perennial losers that neutrals find very easy to like
Despite all of those achievements, both Tottenham and Dortmund are largely considered underdogs – even when they could on paper be favourites.
Spurs haven't won the title in England since 1961, which gives them a look of perennial losers that neutrals find very easy to like.
Borussia are way behind Bayern Munich as far as financial aspects are concerned, and are robbed of their top players almost every summer. Their ability to grow and become stronger even after losing the likes of Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze to their big rivals makes them feel like overachievers.
Even though they are clearly the second-strongest club in the Bundesliga, the neutrals won't necessarily see them as such.
6. They appreciate local roots
Dortmund stand out somewhat because one-club legend Michael Zorc is the sports director responsible for their long-term strategy
In Kane, Mason, Nabil Bentaleb and Tom Carroll, Tottenham boast four academy graduates in their first-team squad, and nobody really cares that Alli was signed from MK Dons. Even more importantly, Tottenham are still owned by Englishmen. Billionaire Joe Lewis largely stays in the shadows behind his company ENIC, leaving the day-to-day running to Daniel Levy, a genuine Spurs fan.
In Germany all clubs are locally owned, but Dortmund stand out somewhat because one-club legend Michael Zorc is the sports director responsible for their long-term strategy.
Forward Reus is crucial to the club's image, too – he grew up a Dortmund fan, was forced out of the academy aged 17, but chose to return home and stay in spite of very lucrative offers from virtually every top club in Europe. ‘Rolls Reus’ alone gives Dortmund a very local feel.
7. The fans know a good thing
Dortmund fans are famous for being among the best in the world. Their passion knows no bounds, and they always fill the wonderful Signal Iduna Park. The atmosphere at Borussia home games is truly unique, and away fans from London are lucky they are about to experience it.
The Tottenham faithful are very passionate themselves, staying loyal to their team through many a bad season. Now it’s their time to celebrate, and they won’t let it slip through their fingers.
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