Spurs: Alderweireld to learn from Atlético; Kane's scan results; Pochettino on European football
Toby Alderweireld is hoping that Spurs can summon the spirit of the Atlético Madrid team he was involved with and reach the latter stages of the Champions League. Tottenham began their campaign with a 2-1 defeat to Monaco and Wembley, which puts them under pressure to pick up points on their travels in order to qualify for the knockout stages.
They face CSKA Moscow tonight in a tricky looking encounter, though Spurs have lost just one of their last five against Russian opposition. Key figures such as Eric Dier, Harry Kane and Moussa Dembele are absent through injury and Pochettino will have to rely on the likes of Heung Min Son and Vincent Janssen continuing to produce the good. Alderweireld was part of the Atlético team that reached the final in 2014, and claims that run to proved unfancied teams can overcome the odds if they put their mind to it. The Belgian international said:
“I’ve learned that every team can win the Champions League if you put your mind to it. If you have a good squad and the hunger is there to win something, you can do it.
“At Atletico, we had the big teams like Barcelona, Real, Bayern Munich – they were always the favourites. But at Atletico, if you are a really good group and, of course, we had quality too, you can win it. That’s the thing that has stayed with me.”
Winning the Champions League is a mountainous task for any English club this season, let alone a club such as Spurs with such limited experience in the competition. The ‘Big Three’ of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are firmly entrenched, with the likes of Atlético and PSG in close pursuit. Of course, the Champions League is all about seeing the best teams in Europe do battle over two legs, but the tournament has become quite repetitive in recent years.
The history of English teams in the competition does give a ray of hope though; you don’t need to be the best team in your league, let alone Europe to flourish. Liverpool finished fifth in the league in 2005, Arsenal had their lowest ever Premier League points total under Arsene Wenger when they reached the final in 2006 and Chelsea finished sixth when they triumphed in 2012.
Elsewhere, there was good news for Spurs fans as Pochettino revealed the results of Harry Kane’s ankle scan were positive. The Tottenham boss said the outcome was ‘much, much better’ than expected and that the timeframe for the injury could be reduced.
It was originally believed that Kane would miss two months of first-team football. Spurs face Arsenal at the Emirates on 6th November in the season’s first north London Derby, and having the England striker back for that game will be a major boost.
Finally, Pochettino has urged his players to believe in themselves and that they belong at Champions League level. Quoted in The Evening Standard, the Argentinian coach said:
“And it’s important to believe that we belong in the Champions League.
“We need to win – it’s as simple as that.
“It’s not more pressure because we lost the first game. In football your mentality always has to be to win.”
Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson took years to adapt to the demands of European football, while Spurs’ neighbours Arsenal have never quite had its measure despite a successful 20-year spell with Arsene Wenger at the helm. Champions League football poses unique challenges, and making the transition from domestic football can be difficult.
Featured image: All rights reserved by Serg Hoholok
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