COMMENT BY Editor Wayne Veysey
Tottenham whimpered out of the Champions League last season before the Christmas Carol season was properly underway.
That was Spurs’ first time in the competition since Mauricio Pochettino took charge in 2014 and that could have been offered as an explanation for their disappointing performance.
However, this time around Pochettino has said there can be no excuses and Tottenham must prove they deserve to be in the Champions League by navigating a tricky group which also includes Apoel Nicosia and Real Madrid.
A strong start is vital, and Spurs will get lift-off if they pick their strongest available XI and make two changes, one enforced, to the side that comfortably brushed Everton aside at the weekend.
With Dele Alli (suspended) and Victor Wanyama (knee) ruled out, Pochettino must bring the dominant presence of Mousa Dembele back into midfield and also re-instate the livewire Son Heung-Min.
Dembele is on a different plane to Moussa Sissoko, who started ahead of him at Everton, and can help Spurs get a foothold in the match, which can then be capitalised on by Harry Kane and company.
Kane’s double against Everton will have huge ramifications for not only Spurs’ immediate prospects of winning, but also their opponents.
Once the prolific Spurs talisman gets on a roll, he is unstoppable and his side have the potential to make a huge Champions League statement by demolishing Dortmund.
Tottenham should keep the same 3-4-3 formation that worked a treat at Goodison Park.
That would mean Hugo Lloris in goal behind a backline of Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and summer signing Davinson Sanchez, who made his full debut at Goodison Park at the weekend.
In-form Ben Davies and Kieran Trippier must keep their slots in the wide positions while Eric Dier is the best partner for Dembele in the absence of Wanyama.
With Alli unavailable, the front three pick themselves. They could run riot and bury the team’s Wembley hoodoo as well as reignite their Champions League campaign.
t was ultimately what saw them relegated to the Europa League last term in a much easier group.
In other Tottenham news, a speed machine is to agree a deal after a £25million bid from Spurs.