Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Tuesday 5 March, 20:00 Live on BT Sport
Dortmund's glittering season is losing its shine
The famous old adage "you can't win anything with kids" has been spectacularly disproved a few times in recent years, but trying to win major trophies with some incredibly young players does have its difficulties. Borussia Dortmund excelled for so long this season, but costly errors have crept in, especially from some of their inexperienced starlets.
Friday night's Bundesliga defeat at relegation-threatened Augsburg, a result that allowed Bayern Munich to wipe out their three-point advantage in the title race, is a case in point.
First, 19-year-old defender Dan-Axel Zagadou misjudged a long ball to allow Andre Hahn to set up an opener for the hosts, and then 20-year-old full-back Achraf Hakimi gifted Dong-Won Ji possession in the BVB half, and the South Korean produced a delightful chip to score the winner.
Dortmund also made critical errors in the first leg of this Champions League tie against Tottenham. Having looked perhaps the slightly better side in the first 45 minutes at Wembley, BVB produced a defensive horror show after the break, conceding three preventable goals from two crosses and a corner. Dortmund have now leaked 13 goals in their last six competitive games, a spell that has seen them tumble out of the DFB Cup, lose their lead in the race for the Meisterschale and be pushed onto the precipice in the Champions League.
Of course, there is still incredible talent in this group of players. Jadon Sancho and Marco Reus have been outstanding in attack for most of the season, Paco Alcacer has been a great impact sub, and keeper Roman Burki has made a surprising leap forward in terms of consistency and solidity. However, the spotlight is being shone on Dortmund coach Lucien Favre, who is unquestionably a talented tactician, but has a history of doubting himself when the going gets tough. Can he handle the pressure?
Pochettino trying to detach the anchor of self-doubt
It's one thing for fans of rival clubs to accuse Tottenham of "Spursyness" (or is it Spursiness?), the chronic tendency to snatch failure from the jaws of victory, but there is something fascinating about the club's own fans keeping alive that particular perception. Slowly but surely, manager Mauricio Pochettino is trying to erase that psychological complex.
For all the talk of "bottling" a title race that quite frankly Tottenham have no logical business being in, Pochettino is on course for the targets he has set. Spurs are on course to qualify for the Champions League with nine league games left, and barring a disaster, they will reach the quarter-finals of European football's premier competition.
Key players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli have had their contracts extended, and despite the fact that effectively every match Spurs have played this season has been an away game, they could well beat last season's points tally.
Yes, defeats at Burnley and Chelsea have raised the anxiety levels, as did a narrow escape against North London rivals Arsenal (the Gunners missed a late penalty in a 1-1 draw), but if Tottenham keep Dortmund at bay on Tuesday night, it'll be another milestone on an impressive journey.
Away goal a serious danger for Dortmund
Dortmund are unbeaten at home inside 90 minutes this term, but they have to be flawless on Tuesday night, and I don't see them keeping a clean sheet against Tottenham's dangerous attacking unit. BVB are leaking goals, and they have to play on the front foot to have any chance of turning this tie around. Some people have drawn attention to the 4-0 home win over Atletico Madrid in the group stage as possible motivation, but it's worth bearing in mind that Atleti twice hit the woodwork in that game, and the scoreline at least slightly flattered the hosts.
My suspicion is that Dortmund will make a strong start, roared on by the Yellow Wall, but that ultimately Spurs will score an away goal that will kill off the hosts' hopes of qualification. I'll back Dortmund to win the second leg at 2.02, but I think that victory will be in vain. We had a "remontada" in Barcelona where they overturned a 4-0 deficit against PSG and a "Romantada" for Roma against Barcelona, but don't expect a "Ruhrmontada" here.
Goals on the cards as Dortmund push for big win
Dortmund's last four home games have all ultimately featured at least four goals, although their cup exit to Bremen was 1-1 after 90 minutes. BVB's only way out of this hole is to come out all guns blazing from the start, so I'll be surprised if it's a low scoring affair, especially given the fact that Tottenham have leaked five goals in their last three matches. Backing Over 3.5 Goals at 2.46 seems a sensible play.
Reus to play a captain's role
Marco Reus made his return to the side on Friday at Augsburg, and while he had an ineffective game, he has still been outstanding this season. He has scored 13 Bundesliga goals, and the skipper has found the net in six of his last nine competitive appearances. At 2.52to score in 90 minutes, he's worth backing.
On the Spurs side, I'm surprised to see the prolific Harry Kane trading at 2.50, while Heung-Min Son is 3.20. Son scored in the first leg, and has scored nine goals in ten games against BVB.