Borussia Dortmund set out for today’s Champions League tie against Tottenham Hotspur in London hoping their stars will become ‘heroes’ in a group containing titleholders Real Madrid.
‘This is the hardest group, but also challenging, and in such groups, heroes are made,’ said managing director Hans-Joachim Watzke on Tuesday.
Dortmund, Spurs, and Real are joined by Cyprus side APOEL in Group H with Borussia hosting Spanish giants Madrid on September 26.
The Germans have a proud Champions League history, reaching the quarter-finals twice in the last four seasons.
However they were held to a goalless draw at 10-man Freiburg in the Bundesliga on Saturday when their attack, boasting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and US wunderkind Christian Pulisic, failed to fire.
The Bundesliga leaders have a score to settle at Wembley, Spurs’ adopted home stadium, where the Germans lost the 2013 Champions League final to Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich.
‘It’s a huge challenge, but I see us as being on the same level as Tottenham,’ said director of sport Michael Zorc.
The Champions League still holds a few ghosts for the German club after the dark days of April 11 when a bomb attack on the team bus left defender Marc Bartra needing surgery after three blasts tore into the vehicle.
Bartra will miss the match against Spurs with a groin injury while captain Marcel Schmelzer will miss the next seven weeks after tearing ankle ligaments in the draw at Freiburg.
With Schmelzer out, Germany’s Under-21 international Jeremy Toljan is set to take his place at left-back while new-signing Andriy Yarmolenko could make his first start after coming off the bench in Freiburg.
The Germans beat Spurs 3-0 at home and 2-1 away when the teams met in the group stages of the Europa League in 2015/16 as Tottenham coach Mauricio Pochettino rested many of his first-choice players for the Premier League.
‘The current match is not comparable to the games at that time,’ said Zorc, while Dortmund coach Peter Bosz expects ‘a very strong opponent’ in London.
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