We’ve posted a lot about Harry Kane’s chances to play in tomorrow’s Champions League match against Real Madrid, and for good reason: Kane is the best player on Tottenham Hotspur, and Spurs should have a better chance to achieve a result with him than without him.
So it’s comforting to hear from Mauricio Pochettino, who announced in a pre-match press conference that he’s “really confident” that Kane is going to be just fine and will feature at Wembley Stadium tomorrow.
“We are really confident. Maybe it’s possible but I don’t want to say 100 per cent as we have one more day. Yesterday and today was good though.”
Kane was spotted leading out his Tottenham teammates this morning at the Tottenham training ground, and you’ve got to think that he wants to play against Madrid pretty desperately.
However, we also know that Pochettino isn’t the kind of manager that will risk his best player long-term for a short-term gain when Spurs are already in the drivers’ seat to advance out of their Champions League group. It would surprise nobody if Kane is in the match day squad, but begins the match on the bench.
Meanwhile, this is also the first Champions League match of the season for Dele Alli, who missed the first three due to suspension. Dele had picked up a straight red in last season’s draw against Gent, a result that knocked them out of the Europa League. This will be the first time that Dele will play for Spurs, and it happens to come against the best team in the world.
And Pochettino sounds pretty happy to have him back.
“It’s true that Dele Alli is so important to us but we are in a good position in the Champions League without him. That shows a strong mentality. Of course he’s going to help us now. I think he needs to enjoy playing football. Of course he’s a character, a winner and he needs to show his personality on the pitch as he did against United. That is his character. He has a good chance to play if I select him and we have one more player to help us achieve what we want, to go to the next stage of the Champions League.
“I think for many reasons, which I think you must read in the next book, after two very successful seasons or one and a half, I think he had a difficult pre-season for different reasons and then he was banned. It can affect the motivation when you’re not competing in an exciting competition and you stay here alone at the training ground. Maybe he was affected a little bit by that. Now we are pleased with him, his internal motivation is high. The last three games he’s played we’ve been happy with his performance. He is increasing his level and I am not worried about him. It’s true he’s not in his best, but it’s coming. Like winter, it’s coming.”
First, can we just stop a minute and acknowledge that Pochettino made a Game of Thrones reference in a Champions League press conference? (Though clearly Real Madrid are from Dorne, not beyond the Wall.)
Second, this is a strong statement of support for Dele, which I fully expected from Poch. We’ve noticed that Dele seems a little “off his feed” but tomorrow’s game could be a season-defining one for him, if he can put in a good performance against Madrid. I have no doubt he’s champing at the bit to get out there and (to use a Pochettino phrase) “show his quality” against a really, really outstanding opponent.