Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham Hotspurs nearly had a very historic Champions League campaign last season. They had pipped Real Madrid to the top spot in their group and also registered a memorable 2-2 draw against Italian giants Juventus at the Allianz Stadium.
With two away goals in the bag and the second leg at Wembley, the stars were aligned for Tottenham to reach the quarterfinals. Except, it panned out in the worst possible manner for the North London side with Juventus winning 2-1.
In this year’s Champions League, Spurs are in a somewhat similar situation. They head into a matchup, at home, against a Serie A powerhouse, with survival at stake.
Win or Die
Tottenham currently languish at the Europa League spot in Group B, three points behind second-placed Internazionale. Worryingly for Spurs, their next Champions League fixture is against FC Barcelona, at Camp Nou whereas Internazionale will be facing PSV Eindhoven.
A win is necessary for Tottenham to keep their Champions League hopes alive as that will put them on level with Inter. They will then have to defeat FC Barcelona in the next match and hope that Internazionale succumb to PSV. A less than ideal situation for the hosts, if we were being honest.
For Inter, the mathematics is much simpler. A win will confirm their qualification to the Round of 16. A draw will lessen those chances a bit but they host PSV in their next match, so they’ll still have it easier as compared to their opponents for tonight.
A testing run of games for Tottenham
Pochettino’s men are in the middle of a tough three-game run. They were able to take care of Chelsea at home, 3-1 this past weekend. After today’s crucial Champions League match, they will travel to the Emirates Stadium to take on Arsenal in the North London derby.
The Tottenham squad isn’t exactly the deepest but they surprised many with a resounding win to end Chelsea’s unbeaten run in the Premier League. They will need to play at a similar level to contend with an Internazionale side that is playing some effective football. Luciano Spalletti’s side overcame Spurs 2-1 at the San Siro, with Matias Vecino scoring a last-minute winner.
Inter have looked good value in recent weeks. They have won three, drawn and lost one in their last five matches so far. This run included a marvelous 3-0 win over domestic rivals Lazio as well as a 5-0 demolition of Genoa. They also held FC Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at the San Siro. Will they be able to do it at Wembley? Their away form in the Serie A is encouraging as the Nerazzurri have stacked up four wins and two losses in all road games played. They’ve also found the net four times in these six games.
Tottenham have a depleted defensive unit heading into this pivotal match. Davinson Sanchez is not expected to take any part in the game. The English full-back pair of Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose is doubtful as well. Another key player who’s not expected to take part is Moussa Dembele.
For Internazionale, the biggest name unavailable for this game is Sime Vrsjalko, which means Danilo D’Ambrosio will be deputizing at right-back. Barring the Croat’s absence, Spalletti has the luxury of fielding close to his best side. A luxury that Pochettino must be looking at enviously.