One of the biggest concerns fans have had concerning Tottenham Hotspur’s decision to play Champions League matches at Wembley Stadium instead of at White Hart Lane this season is how Spurs will adapt to the size of Wembley’s pitch.
Pochettino said in a press conference today ahead of tomorrow’s match that Spurs have been trying to adjust to the difference in field dimensions by training on a full-size replica of Wembley’s pitch at Spurs’ training grounds at Hotspur Way.
“We created the same dimensions as Wembley. We need to feel good both there and at White Hart Lane. We need to enjoy playing at Wembley.
“We need to go there and behave naturally. We will have the same routine as we do at White Hart Lane – arrive three-and-a-half hours before the game, have some meetings, prepare for the match in a normal way.
Wembley’s pitch is both wider and longer than White Hart Lane, which is one of the smallest grounds in the Premier League. Pochettino has said before that the narrowness of the field at Tottenham’s home ground have on occasion had a detrimental effect to the way he wants Spurs to play. So this obviously makes a lot of sense.
Playing on a wider and longer pitch will have both advantages and disadvantages. The length of the field will give Kyle Walker and Ben Davies more room to bomb up the wings, and the width could create additional space in the channels for players like Harry Kane, Erik Lamela, and Christian Eriksen to exploit. Concurrently, a bigger pitch makes it more difficult to press, as there’s more space available for the team under pressure to get out of danger. And any advantages to playing on a bigger field cuts both ways.
That said, Poche isn’t using the difference in the pitch size as an excuse. Spurs play on various pitch sizes every time they travel to a different away ground, and this is no different.
“We trust ourselves and the way we play. It is a good chance for us to play on a big pitch but in the end we need to adapt, not find excuses.
“When you play on a big pitch it can help a team who try to build from the back, as we do, because you have more space. Yes, it is bigger than White Hart Lane but we are not worried about our physical condition.”