Tottenham: Pochettino wants Europa success; Alderweireld tweet following return
It was third time lucky in the Champions League for Spurs, as Mauricio Pochettino’s men put their Wembley woe behind them by beating Russian outfit CSKA Moscow, sealing third place and qualifying for the Europa League. It was their only win at the national stadium in seven competitive outings, but their Argentine manager hopes that this is a corner turned regarding their football at Wembley as he looks towards a successful campaign in the Europa League.
They had to come from behind again to manage it, but Spurs responded well to going behind thanks to Alan Dzagoev’s 33rd minute goal for the visitors, with strikes from Dele Alli, Harry Kane and an own goal from CSKA goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev enough to seal victory.
Despite having crashed out of the Champions League following back-to-back defeats against Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco, the win over CSKA was enough to see their European adventure continue elsewhere. But Pochettino has dismissed the notion that the competition is merely a “consolation prize” in his post-match press conference, and described the tournament as an “important” one for his Spurs side.
“We need to move ahead, we have the opportunity to play more here, and that’s important to make Wembley our home,” said Pochettino. His comments are justified given the fact that his Spurs side will play all their home matches at Wembley next season, whilst their traditional White Hart Lane home is being developed.
“The Europa League is a good competition to go far. We believe we can win that competition and in the Premier League we can go far, near the top.”
The win also handed Spurs first back-to-back victories since October, and Pochettino is pleased that his side are beginning to flex their muscles.
“We struggled in the last month and a half because we have some problems, but we have all the squad nearly fit and we are stronger. You can feel the team is recovering that feeling that we can win every game. We have recovered that feeling maybe that we lost, it was a bit of a struggle for us to compete.
“We need all the players fit to be strong and to compete in tough competitions like the Premier League and Champions League and it was unlucky that our struggle arrived in a busy period with important games.”
One of the issues that Pochettino was forced to contend with during a difficult October and November period was the absence of key defender Toby Alderweireld. He has been forced out of action since the October draw at West Bromwich Albion with a knee problem, and in his absence Spurs have won just two games in ten in all competitions, suffered elimination from the Champions League and seen their unbeaten record in the Premier League come grinding to a halt after slipping to defeat at table-topping Chelsea.
Though Pochettino has received the boost of the Belgians return to fitness, having thrown him on for the second-half of Spurs’ win over CSKA on Wednesday, and in a revealing interview with the London Evening Standard, Alderweireld has discussed his relief to be back on the pitch and the difficulties that faced him during his spell on the sidelines.
“I’m very happy. It was a tough two months because it’s an unusual injury,” said Alderweireld.
“I had to wait for my muscle and nerve to start working again.
“I worked hard, so when the moment the nerve was starting again, the muscle as well, I would be fit to play again.
“I put a lot of effort into it so I’m happy to be back today.”
Good result tonight! Great to be back💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/xXM9ZVe9eb
— Toby Alderweireld (@AlderweireldTob) December 7, 2016
After the game, Alderweireld was quick to display his pleasure at returning, as he helped his side end their Champions League campaign on a positive note, and will now look towards Europa League success as their European exploits continue.
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