Tottenham Hotspur and Borussia Dortmund go head-to-head this week.
Tottenham Hotspur’s weekend victory against Aston Villa kept them in touch with Premier League leaders Leicester City, and while the Foxes are now five points clear it would only take one slip up to let Spurs right back into it.
For that reason, Thursday’s Europa League clash against Borussia Dortmund will go a long way to determining if manager Mauricio Pochettino is now focusing almost solely on domestic success, with all eyes on his next team selection.
The Tottenham boss was criticised by some for playing a weakened team in the first leg and subsequently conceding three goals without reply. However, whatever you think of his decision it is his team sheet for the second leg that will tell us whether or not he is – to all intents and purposes – throwing in the towel in Europe.
At this stage of the campaign it may be sensible to do so. After all, clawing back a three-goal deficit against this Dortmund side is not only practically impossible, it would also take lots out of these players with huge matches – and an unwanted international break – on the horizon.
So if Tottenham start these four players on Thursday, it would be a big sign that they are now looking elsewhere for success.
Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier
Tottenham’s second-choice full-backs came in for plenty of criticism after their below-par performance against Dortmund last week, which is in stark contrast to the praise dished out to Kyle Walker and Danny Rose for their impressive showing against Villa a few days later.
Tottenham’s first-choice full-backs are as important as any player in the team and if Pochettino really wants to turn things round against the Germans he will surely pick them despite the league games on the horizon.
Tom Carroll and Ryan Mason
Tottenham have some of the best midfielders in England right now, but if the likes of Dele Alli and Eric Dier are rested on Thursday Tottenham can surely kiss European success goodbye for another year.
Carroll and Mason both started the first leg and they were not good enough then so there is unlikely to be a change this time round.