Eric Dier: Spurs can reach the same level as Borussia Dortmund under Mauricio Pochettino
Eric Dier says Borussia Dortmund are the best side Tottenham have faced this season – and he believes Spurs can reach the same level as the German club under Mauricio Pochettino.
Dortmund contested the 2013 Champions League final and were too strong for Tottenham over the two legs of the last-16 Europa League tie, triumphing 3-0 at home last week and then winning 2-1 at White Hart Lane on Thursday.
It gave Dier and his team-mates a taste of what they might face if they qualify for next season’s Champions League – but the 22-year-old is relishing that challenge and feels Spurs will only go from strength to strength with time and experience.
“I didn’t play them in the first leg but from this leg I think they’re probably the best side we’ve faced this season,” said Dier. “They’re a very good team but, at the same time, I think we could have done better in both legs.
“I think they played quite a similar style to us. I don’t think they beat us with tactics or anything - I think at times we should have been a lot better. “But they’re a team that’s been progressing maybe since [Jurgen] Klopp was there. They’ve had five or six years to get to this stage. We’re a year in with our manager and this group of players so if you talk to me in four years’ time we’ll probably be at their level or ahead of them. That’s the aim.
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“I don’t think you can ever look at a loss positively but we have to learn from this and we should learn from it. If we don’t then that will be a mistake. “It was really good to come up against a side like that. They’re a Champions League side really so to come up against them shows how far we’ve come from the beginning of last season and these are games we want to be winning and games we want to be fighting in, so there’s obviously still a lot to improve on.
“That’s what we play football for, to be challenging in every match and playing against the best teams in the world. It was nice to play against one of them this week and I’m looking forward to playing against more of them.”
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While Tottenham’s European campaign is over for another season, they can now focus solely on their Premier League bid – but Dier has mixed feelings about the easier schedule.
“It could help us, it could hinder us,” he said. “Me personally, I quite enjoy playing midweek games. You get into a nice rhythm of non-stop matches, but at the same time obviously we’ll have a couple of extra days’ rest and we’ve got five or six-day weeks where we can rest, recover and then work on stuff on the training pitch, which we haven’t been able to do since probably before Christmas.”
Dier appeared to be holding his groin towards the end of Thursday’s game, which was his 45th match for club and country this season.
However, he insisted he was “fine” as he left the Lane and added: “I’m not tired, I’m enjoying it.
“I don’t think there’s any excuse to be tired. All I do is play football every day, I’m not doing anything else so there’s no reason for me to be tired. I’m enjoying every minute of it and you only play football for 10 years. There’s no point being tired for some of that.
“We’re all young, we’re all competitive and we work extremely hard on the training pitch to be as fit as possible and to prove it every weekend.”
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs