Tottenham’s qualification to the knockout stages of the Champions League was no less of a saga in itself. The London club failed to win any of their first three games and left it too late to confirm qualification.
Spurs had to wait till the 85th minute for Lucas Moura to cancel Ousmane Dembele’s early goal in their last group-stage game in Camp Nou. A combination of this and Inter failing to beat PSV Eindhoven extended their journey in Europe's premier competition. They finished as runners-up of Group B and drew Borussia Dortmund in the last 16.
While the Spurs faithful were afforded to breathe a sigh of relief after watching their team survive the “Group of Death”, they must fear what a certain Jadon Sancho can do to their team in the knockouts.
A quick introduction tells you that the 18-year-old has now established himself as a starter and an important player for Dortmund. He has amassed one goal and one assist in Europe this season, but his threat can’t be quantified by mere numbers.
A spectacular dribbler of the ball, Sancho can torment the Spurs backline over the two legs. The Englishman’s primary trait which sets him apart from the regular bunch of talented youngsters is his close control and incredible movement.
Dembele has exposed the frailties in the Spurs defence over the two legs in the group stages. Although Sancho is not quite at their level, his style of play is similar to the Barcelona forwards. The Englishman relies on close control and sudden bursts of acceleration to get past players. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld have been comfortably unlocked by a combination of pace and trickery as witnessed several times tihs season.
Another arrow in the youngster’s quiver is his vision and incredible decision making.
Sancho also fits the profile of a player who likes to step up in big games. Some of his best performance in the Bundesliga have come against top teams like Bayern Munich, Borussia Monchengladbach and Bayer Leverkusen. The youngster has been crucial in fetching Dortmund nine points of a possible nine against these teams.
His combination with Marco Reus is another thing Spurs will have to keep an eye out for. The two have developed a good rapport and seem to link-up very well.
Reus might be the flag-bearer of Dortmund’s fearsome attack, but Sancho could pose some real threat to Maurico Pochettino's side.