One day after Tottenham Hotspur’s 1-1 draw against Barcelona at Camp Nou, the good feelings are continuing in earnest. The draw, combined with Inter Milan’s home draw to PSV, was enough for Spurs to squeak past the Italians into the Round of 16 behind Barca.
After the match, Spurs vice-captain and striker Harry Kane gushed over what this result meant for this Tottenham side, and what it means for him to play for Mauricio Pochettino.
“I can’t speak highly enough of [Pochettino]. He’s a fantastic manager, a fantastic man. With him, it’s always about hard work and belief. That’s what he said to us before the game and at half-time: just believe, bring energy, work. And we’ll get the reward.
“You just want to perform for him, work hard for him, win for him. He’s very passionate. You can tell sometimes he wants to be out there himself, putting in tackles, running about.
“You respond to that. On nights like that, big occasions, you just want to do him justice. We’re buzzing, he was very happy in the changing room. We should enjoy it. But I know him — he’ll be focused on Saturday and trying to win against Burnley.”
It almost didn’t happen. Spurs lost their opening two Champions League fixtures — a crushing 2-1 loss at Inter and a 4-2 home drubbing to Barca — and drew their next match against PSV. The Champions League future looked grim, but Spurs were able to turn it around and still finish second on tie breakers, though it took some help from PSV in the final match to fully complete the comeback.
For Harry, what the Barcelona result did was infuse the team with the belief that they can compete with any team left in this competition. The talent is there, and now the players believe that they can go even farther.
“As performances under this manager go, it’s right up there. We’ve had some good results, especially away in the Champions League. But last night it was all or nothing. We had to perform or we were going out of the competition. We didn’t win the game but we did more than enough to go through.
“We want to go as far as we can in this competition. This will give us belief that we can do that. The manner in which we played, the chances we created shows we can be as good as anyone on our day.
“There’s no bigger game than Barcelona away. If we get them again in the latter stages — or Real Madrid or Juve again, like last year — we definitely know that kind of performance is in there. It’s time to step it up and show we can do it in the knockout stages.”
Despite everything — a bad start, no summer signings, continuing delays with the new stadium — Spurs are still right there with the best football clubs in Europe. And Kane thinks they belong.
“Who knows how far we can go? It’s about belief. We’ve done the hard bit of getting through the group. Now it’s about getting as far as we can.”