Champs League a big jump for Spurs

LONDON • Borussia Dortmund on Thursday acted as a tantalising spur and indication for Tottenham Hotspur of the calibre of opposition they may face in the Champions League next season.

The German football side were slick and incisive in their 2-1 second-leg win in London (they went through 5-1 on aggregate) in the Europa League last-16 tie.

And they demonstrated to Mauricio Pochettino that he will not have the same luxury that he enjoyed in the Europa League of rotating his squad heavily between the Premier League and European competition.

Tottenham never got to grips with the pace and subtlety of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who struck twice.

The English club have prioritised the Premier League, where they sit five points behind the leaders Leicester, and Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Mousa Dembele played no part at White Hart Lane.

Dortmund, though, are also five points off the summit in the Bundesliga - albeit 16 points clear of third - and opted for a far stronger selection across two legs that they dominated while demonstrating ample quality.

They were already 3-0 up before Aubameyang's superb goal in the first half. The Gabonese forward added a second with 20 minutes remaining.

And, though Son Heung Min replied late on, Pochettino will hope his first-choice side produce a better performance against Bournemouth in the Premier League tomorrow.

"It was a great first goal and it killed, not our motivation, but our way to try to come into the tie," Pochettino said.

"It was a good test for us. We can see what is our level, the depth of the squad, which is important for the future.

"It means that to play in the Europa League or Champions League, to try to compete or fight in different competitions in the same season, we need to improve and we need to improve our squad.

"It was a good tie to feel our real level in Europe, because today we competed with a team that is Champions League level."

Dortmund beat Tottenham with the "special power and mentality" needed to win in England, said their coach Thomas Tuchel.

"As a little kid in my garden I liked the name Tottenham Hotspur. For me to play them in two legs was very special," he said. "We deserved to win and it means a lot to me to be the first German team to win here."

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2016, with the headline 'Champs League a big jump for Spurs'. Print Edition | Subscribe