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Mauricio Pochettino says he is not surprised by the emergence of Borussia Dortmund’s English winger Jadon Sancho as Spurs prepare to take on the German side in the Champions League.
The 18-year-old, who joined from Manchester City in 2017, has produced eight goals and 10 assists for the Bundesliga leaders this season.
“We knew very well that he was capable of doing what he’s doing now,” Pochettino said. “We were talking in the last few years that he was a massive prospect.”
Sancho is expected to be named in the starting XI after Dortmund captain Marco Reus was ruled out of the last-16 first leg match with a thigh injury.
Pochettino added: “Of course he is showing now in Germany that he can cope with the pressure to play in the Bundesliga or in the Champions League. And no, it doesn’t surprise me. His talent is there and he’s a very talented player.”
The teenager, whose three goals helped England win the Under-17 World Cup in 2017, won his first senior cap for England against Croatia last October.
‘We can do it this year,’ says Vertonghen
Defender Jan Vertonghen is confident Tottenham can reach the last eight for the first time since 2011.
“We can beat anyone,” said the Belgian, who is likely to play in the left-back position and mark Sancho.
“We have shown that last year. Over two games we were the better team against Real Madrid (four points from two group games) who were the eventual winners of the trophy.
“That is why it was a shame we could not do better last year because we felt we should have done better. That is why everyone has the feeling we can do it this year.”
Tottenham duo Eric Dier (virus) and Erik Lamela (back) both returned to training with the squad on Tuesday for the first leg of their last-16 match. Neither were available for Sunday’s 3-1 win over Leicester.
Argentine Pochettino confirmed left-back Danny Rose’s shin injury means he is a doubt for Wednesday’s contest.
Striker Harry Kane (ankle) and midfielders Dele Alli (hamstring) and Ben Davies (groin) remain sidelined.
Spurs have a 55% chance of reaching the last eight
Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis at Gracenote, said: “Tottenham are rated the ninth best team in Europe by the Euro Club Index, four places above Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund. Tottenham have a 55% chance of reaching the quarter-finals.
“Spurs’ chance of winning this season’s Champions League is around 3%, up from around 2% before the group phase started.”
- Tottenham and Dortmund are facing each other for the third time in the last four seasons in European competition. Their head-to-head record is balanced, with two wins each.
- Tottenham won their two previous encounters with Dortmund in the Champions League; this came in last season’s group stages (3-1 at Wembley, 2-1 at the Signal Iduna Park).
- All 19 goals scored in the Champions League this season by Tottenham (nine) and Borussia Dortmund (10) have come from open play.
- Dortmund have never failed to score against Tottenham in European competition (four games).
- Dortmund have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League for the fifth time in their last six campaigns while this is the first time Tottenham have reached the knockout phase in consecutive seasons.
- No team has scored more goals in the last 15 minutes of Champions League games this season than Borussia Dortmund (five). Their bench has also been the most clinical with five goals coming from substitutes.
- No team conceded fewer Champions League goals than Borussia Dortmund in this season’s group stages (two in six games).
- Raphael Guerreiro has scored four of Borussia Dortmund’s last five goals in the Champions League. He is the top Portuguese scorer in this season’s competition (four goals).
- Among the 16 remaining teams in the Champions League, Tottenham were the only side to post a negative goal difference in this season’s group stages (-1).
- Eight of Tottenham’s nine goals in the Champions League this season have come in the second half (89%).
- Kane has been directly involved in 48% of Tottenham’s goals in the Champions League over the last three seasons (16/33), scoring 13 times and assisting on three occasions.