Weblog: The football punter

Spurs can make light of their Wembley woes

Group H
BT Sport 3, 7.45pm Wednesday

The tale of Tottenham Hotspur and the Wembley Curse is turning into an uncomfortable read for Mauricio Pochettino but the Spurs boss can ensure a happy ending by masterminding victory over injury-hit Borussia Dortmund.

Spurs' record at the new Wembley – two wins in 12 matches – is statistically a poor one, though given that most of those matches were finals and European ties, the opposition has generally been of a decent standard.

That hasn’t stopped some elements of the media, most notably, from making mischief at Pochettino’s expense and the sooner the Lilywhites pick up a win at their temporary home, the better for them.

So why should punters think that Spurs can do to Dortmund what they didn’t do to Burnley in their previous home match?

First, of course, they should have beaten Burnley; they were much the better team. That they didn’t, however, was further evidence of the mental pressures of playing at Wembley, according to the cynics.

But the win will come – because it will. And after the way they dismantled Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday and against a Dortmund side who have got some major selection issues to solve, tonight really ought to be the night.

The Germans are unbeaten this season – played five, won three, with no goals conceded in the last four.

Under new boss Pete Bosz it’s been a near-ideal start though Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Freiburg was not a great advert for what BVB are about.

The right-sided double act of Lukas Pizsczek and Christian Pulisic were nullified by a strong Freiburg, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was kept quiet and the Dortmund midfield seemed bereft of ideas. And all against a team who were reduced to ten men after 29 minutes.

They are inevitably going to miss a player as gifted as Ousmane Dembele – Andrei Yarmolenko can expect a first start in London – but, perhaps more significantly, only two members of Bosz’s back four from Saturday are fit to play.

The Dortmund left side, therefore, becomes a relative area of weakness which Tottenham can exploit. Bosz has to decide whether to persevere with teenager Dan-Axel Zagadou or bring in Jeremy Toljan for his first action of the campaign.

Spurs have their own headache with the suspended Dele Alli needing replacing.

But the Harry Kane-Christian Eriksen axis has clicked again and Spurs looked especially solid at Goodison with Davinson Sanchez, Bosz’s centre-back at Ajax last season, slotting in seamlessly.

Punters are confident there will be goals – it’s a best-priced 8-13 that both teams score while over 2.5 is a 4-6 shot.

And Dortmund began last season’s group-stage campaign with a 6-0 romp in Warsaw against Legia.

However, Tottenham’s first four group games last season yielded just five goals, with entertainment often playing second fiddle to survival. It didn’t work because they finished third in the group.

Take them to get off to a much stronger start than 12 months ago.


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Match in Focus

17:30 TODAY BT2

Lazio v Udinese

Home Win Draw Away Win
Expert verdict
Lazio have been playing some sensational football, beating Crotone 4-0 just before Christmas before thumping SPAL 5-2 and Chievo 5-1 in their two league outings in 2018. Udinese won five out of five in December but kicked off the new year with disappointing 1-1 draws against Chievo and SPAL and they are unlikely to relish their trip to the rampant Romans.