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Pochettino: Spurs players “heroes” despite loss to Barcelona

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Spurs gave up four goals, but Pochettino was proud of the way they fought back through adversity.

Tottenham Hotspur v FC Barcelona - UEFA Champions League Group B Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur might have lost to FC Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday, but their manager is pleased with the fight of his team, if not the final result. Spurs conceded after just two minutes after a poor spell of play that resulted in an ill-timed Hugo Lloris rush, leaving a gaping net. Philippe Coutinho slotted home easily and Spurs had a mountain to climb afterwards.

Pochettino said that opening goal was the real difference in the match, and praised the way his undermanned Spurs’ side tried to come back in the second half.

“Those who play football understand completely that if you start that way in this type of game, in a Champions League game, against a team like Barcelona you cannot concede these type of chances. How we are going to assess after the first half was so tough for my players? We conceded another goal in the second chance with Rakitic scoring an unbelievable goal.

“But for me the most important thing was that in the second half we played and we showed character. We were competitive and always we were in the game. For me we did everything to try to come back and I feel proud of the effort of the players tonight.”

Barcelona is a heck of a good team, even if they were under a cloud of their own, suffering through a three match and counting winless streak in La Liga. On Wednesday at Wembley, it was their talisman, Lionel Messi, who was the difference maker, scoring a brace and regularly tearing open Spurs’ midfield.

According to Pochettino, Spurs still had their chances to nick a result, and might have gotten it had the ball bounced a little differently late in the match.

“I think our players were heroes because they chased the game, playing against Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and company, and were competitive in the second half. I think if Lucas Moura equalized then we are heroes and the manager is the best in the world. And nothing changed.

“We need to watch the game, judge it and analyse it because of what happened there, not the result. Barcelona won 4-2 but the team did everything and I feel so proud of their performance.”

Spurs can bounce back at Wembley this Saturday as they host Cardiff City in the Premier League. They’ll need to do it with a very similar squad to the one they ran out against Barcelona — Jan Vertonghen, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, and Dele Alli are all doubts for this weekend.