TWO down inside 10 minutes, Tottenham fans must have feared the worst watching their side’s first-leg trip to Turin to take on Juventus in the Champions League last 16.
Having demonstrated their ability to hold their own against one of the strongest sides in Europe, our friends at Football Whispers think Tottenham might just be the Premier League’s best bet for Champions League glory this season.
Mauricio Pochettino said back in August: “We need a big trophy... it would mean nothing for me to win the League Cup or the FA Cup even though they are important.”
Those comments got the Spurs boss into hot water at the time, with many accusing the Argentinian tactician of disrespecting the FA Cup. Pochettino has since protested that he was quoted out of context.
What Pochettino’s words displayed, however, was an impressive level of ambition.
The former Southampton manager clearly feels his side are ready to compete for the game’s biggest prizes.
And after Tuesday night’s performance against Juventus, his confidence appears to be well placed.
Spurs have already shown their elite credentials in the Champions League this season by overcoming reigning European champions Real Madrid, earning an impressive draw at the Bernabeu and thumping Los Blancos 3-1 at Wembley to claim top spot in Group H, in turn consigning Borussia Dortmund to the Europa League.
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Although the Premier League is well represented in the knockout stages of this season’s competition, with Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea all still going strong, Spurs might just be the British side best-placed for Champions League glory right now, thanks to a few key X factors.
The English superstar’s strike against Juventus at the Allianz Stadium last night took his Champions League tally for the season to nine, second only to five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
Already on 31 all-competitions goals for 2017/18 and constantly improving, Kane has proven to be capable of scoring against any opposition, a trait which will be a huge advantage for Spurs as they progress through the Champions League.
In Christian Eriksen, who was outstanding against the Italian champions, scoring a second-half free-kick which outfoxed veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, Tottenham have one of the most consistent and underrated creative players in Europe.
And Mousa Dembele, who ran proceedings in central midfield against Juventus, completing 95 passes, six dribbles and creating two chances, has demonstrated his ability to dominate high-calibre opponents time and time again for Spurs.
Wembley, too, once a weakness, is now one of Tottenham’s greatest strengths. Pochettino’s side have finally learnt to embrace the national stadium as their temporary home.
As one of the biggest grounds in Europe, when packed with 90,000 raucous Spurs fans, Wembley will be an intimidating fortress for the Premier League side.
Finally, one of Tottenham’s biggest assets is their manager.
Pochettino’s reputation as one of the brightest young coaches in world football continues to grow.
The way Spurs wrestled back control of the game in Turin showed that Pochettino is capable of outfoxing the sharpest tactical minds in the game.