Thomas Tuchel's Borussia Dortmund outclassed Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 and reporter Daniel Thacker identifies four tactical areas where BVB prevailed.
Article top media content
There was much discussion prior to Borussia Dortmund's UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg against Tottenham Hotspur about the tactical tussle between two of Europe's most promising coaches, Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino.
As it turned out, Tuchel's vibrant Dortmund outclassed Pochettino's Spurs for a 3-0 win, with the German coach getting one over on his Argentinian counterpart in the process. UEFA.com outlines some key tactical areas where Tuchel and Dortmund came out on top ...
The right lineup
Tuchel chose to feature his three best attackers from the start, with Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan all pivotal in Dortmund's win. Reus's second-half double tipped the tie firmly in BVB's favour; Aubameyang opened the scoring with an excellent header, while Mkhitaryan was the brain behind the hosts' relentless pressing and probing.
By contrast, Pochettino left both Harry Kane and Erik Lamela on the bench and the visitors were toothless throughout. Christian Eriksen's early shot aside, Spurs mustered little to threaten Roman Weidenfeller's goal, and by the time Kane and Lamela were introduced the game – and perhaps the tie – had long been decided.
Strong showing on the flanks
One feature of Tottenham's impressive domestic campaign has been the full-backs' willingness to push high and join the attack. On this occasion, however, Kieran Trippier and Ben Davies spent most of the night deep inside their own half.
Dortmund's own wide men – Erik Durm on the right and Marcel Schmelzer on the left – were outstanding, with Tuchel full of praise for Durm after the victory. "His development has been amazing," said the BVB coach. "He is very versatile, which is something coaches love because it always offers you a different option. He's very calm on the ball and makes good decisions."
While Aubameyang and Reus will steal the headlines, Julian Weigl and Gonzalo Castro were outstanding at the heart of the BVB midfield. The 20-year-old Weigl completed a remarkable 75 of his 78 attempted passes and was once again the perfect link between defence and attack.
Equally busy was Castro, who hit the post early in the second period before producing a wonderful chipped assist for Reus's second. The duo nullified Tottenham's central pairing of Ryan Mason and Tom Carroll, who together completed fewer passes than Weigl and struggled throughout to influence proceedings.
More often than not this season it has been Spurs' opponents who have struggled to deal with a high-pressing, fast-paced attacking game. On this occasion, though, the Lilywhites were on the receiving end and were knocked off their stride by Dortmund's aggression.
"We gave the initiative to them," Christian Eriksen told UEFA.com. "They came forward and we tried to press, but we were always late. If you are late at some point [in the press], then you will be late somewhere else as well. We gave them a lot of space to play in. They made it difficult for us to get the ball back."