Tottenham face a test of their professionalism in Dortmund

Spurs’ three-goal advantage should be enough for them to advance in the Champions League if they avoid complacency

Roman centurions mingled easily with the Super Mario Brothers and it was a lot of fun picking through the numerous other costumes. All the while the bass thumped and the drinks flowed. It was Dortmund, Jim, but not as we know it. “Everybody dresses up and just goes crazy,” said one barman. “Alcohol is basically essential.”

Welcome to Rosenmontag – or Rose Monday – and the scene that greeted Tottenham’s travelling support and players before Tuesday night’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Borussia Dortmund. It is one of the biggest celebrations of the German carnival – marked before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent – and in the predominantly Catholic Rhineland in western Germany it is big box office. The original name comes from the German dialect word roose, which means to frolic or romp and, where the town’s football team is concerned, there has not been too much of that for a while.

Dortmund were flying in the Bundesliga, well clear at the top, but a recent run of one win, three draws and one defeat, which came last Friday at relegation-threatened Augsburg, has seen them reeled in by Bayern Munich. The clubs are now level on points, Bayern having flexed their muscle with 11 wins out of 12.

Matthias Sammer, the former Dortmund playing hero, described them as immature; the nerve ends are jangling and, most pressingly, they are confronted by a 3-0 deficit against Spurs, after a first leg at Wembley when they parted alarmingly in the closing stages.

So can Spurs sense a straightforward opportunity to make a piece of history? Only once have they reached the Champions League quarter-finals – under Harry Redknapp in 2010-11 – though they did reach the semi-finals of the old European Cup in 1961-62. It is not quite as simple as that.

This is Spurs, after all, and they are wobbling, too. If the 1-1 home draw with Arsenal on Saturday ended a damaging two-game Premier League losing streak, the performance was a long way from being convincing.

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Few expect them to throw it away. Only three teams in Champions League history have progressed in the knockout rounds after losing the first leg by three or more goals – Barcelona, Roma and Deportivo La Coruña. But Spurs know they face a test of their professionalism and, moreover, Mauricio Pochettino appears in need of a tonic, a bit of light relief, after what has been a testing mini-stretch.

The manager lost his rag with the referee, Mike Dean, after the defeat at Burnley while before the the subsequent one at Chelsea, he said it could be 10 years before his club developed the winning mentality needed to become champions. After Arsenal his assertion that Spurs had been “better in all aspects” fooled nobody, while Danny Rose revealed that Pochettino had eschewed his normal calmness to deliver a blood-and-thunder half-time address.

What if they were to concede the first goal at the imposing Westfalenstadion? That is the question that has preoccupied the more pessimistic of their followers, the ones who have been through the wringer more times than they care to remember.

“We have played many games in this stadium where we’ve written history and we are in a position to achieve the impossible,” said the Dortmund captain, Marco Reus, who returned from a thigh injury at Augsburg. “I think we’ll come out of this situation.”

The big talk came from the Dortmund corner and their backers have pointed to how they hammered Atlético Madrid 4-0 at home during the group stage last October. They know they can score goals – it is just keeping them out that has been the problem, although Spurs have lacked creativity in their past three games.

“We can’t afford to be complacent,” said Ben Davies, the Spurs left-back, who was part of the Spurs team that lost 3-0 here in the Europa League last 16 in 2015-16. “We have to go out there and play our normal game – especially in the first half. We have to be switched on from the off.”

Pochettino had a complaint to make and he did so strongly. How, he asked, was it fair that Dortmund had been granted an extra day of preparation time? It had been the same story before the first leg and it did feel like a negative, getting-excuses-in kind of line to take. At the same time, though, the players can hear the knock of opportunity. They know how to win here – they did so last season, at the group stage of this competition.

“It would be unbelievable if we got through,” Davies said. “Nobody thought we would get this far when we had one point from the first three group games. If we can get it done, who knows what could happen next?”