Borussia Dortmund are without defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos for the Europa League last-16 first leg against Tottenham Hotspur, despite the Greece captain training ahead of the game. The 27-year-old has been out since February with a undisclosed muscle problem, but despite resuming work with the first team the fixture has come too soon for the player.
Papastathopoulos was the only absentee for Dortmund as they trained ahead of the first leg, with Thomas Tuchel having a nearly fully fit squad to choose from. The manager, who succeeded Jurgen Klopp in the summer, has also confirmed that Roman Weidenfeller will continue as the club's goalkeeper in Europe ahead of league number one Roman Burki.
"Everyone stayed healthy [in the last game]," Tuchel explained, according to ESPN. "We expect Sokratis back in training today, but the game will come too soon for him. Roman Weidenfeller will play against Tottenham." Ilkay Gundogan, Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – all of whom have previously been linked with moves to the Premier League – are all in line to start.
The tie sees the teams second in both the Bundesliga and Premier League face off for a place in the last eight. The pair trail leaders Bayern Munich and Leicester City by five points, but Dortmund's 18-point advantage in the race for the Champions League means they can afford to commit their resources towards the Europa League.
Tottenham saw off Fiorentina in the last round and Tuchel says he has been impressed by Mauricio Pochettino's side this season. The 42-year-old believes their style of play is similar to many German clubs, with their high pressing and the role of their full-backs making them a dangerous proposition.
"We are very impressed with their season," Tuchel said of Tottenham, according to Ruhr Nachrichten. "Pochettino has formed a unit, they are very diligent and very aggressive, they defend high and have a lot of ball conquests in the opponent's half. They have the best goal difference in England, the most goals and conceding the least. They can play very intense and defend compact and they have outstanding individuals. They have earned recognition in the Premier League.
"It reminds us of German teams, we recognise many elements. Early ball conquests, the compactness, the forward defence, the holistic defence that participates in the outstanding offence. This is a unique feature in England. I am sure that they can play with each pace because the speed in the Premier League has risen again."