In a season that has been full of dramatic highs in the Champions League, Wednesday night’s match against Juventus is another opportunity for Tottenham Hotspur to achieve glory. Spurs host Juventus at Wembley Stadium knowing that, thanks to a 2-2 draw in Turin, they can advance to the quarterfinals of Europe’s biggest football competition with a win or a low-scoring draw.
But don’t think that means that Spurs will park the bus. Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino was emphatic that Spurs will try to impose their style on the game the way they did in Italy, and that they want to win.
“Tomorrow we are going to face one of the best teams in the world and in history. The last three years they have played two finals and it will be a fantastic battle but I am only thinking about tomorrow. We must not think too much about the consequences of the result.
“We need to feel free. If we do that and enjoy the game we will perform nearly at our best or at our best and if we do then we will have the chance to win. At the end of the season we will see and assess the season but the confidence and the maturity is there and we are in good form and we are going to try and achieve big things if we follow this same way.”
Despite some early jitters that resulted in conceding two goals in the first 12 minutes, Tottenham dominated Juventus in the first leg. That gives the entire club a confidence boost as they return home to play the Old Lady again in front of what promises to be a raucous pro-Tottenham crowd.
The difference this time is that Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala are both available and likely to start for Juventus. Matuidi in particular will give Juventus more oomph in midfield, and may make Mousa Dembele’s job harder this time around. Gonzalo Higuain, who scored both of Juventus’ goals in the first leg, could also return after recovering from a recent injury.
Juventus could look different, and it’s tempting to set up to frustrate and defend, knowing that Spurs only need a result to advance. But that’s not the way Spurs play, and club captain Hugo Lloris said as much in the same press conference.
“I don’t think in this way. We expect a tough game, another battle. We will start the game in the same way as usual. The target is to win the game, enjoy our football, put the right energy with help of the crowd. It’s the best way to enjoy this competition.
”If you think too much, play for a draw, especially against an experience like Juve, you can be in trouble. The best way is to start sharp as we’re used to at home, and the best way is to enjoy it.”
Pochettino also reiterated that he wants his team to play with joy. To achieve a positive result, he said, Spurs must approach the match with confidence and have fun.
“Look, we are going to enjoy [playing] tomorrow. We know very well that we are going to play one of the best teams in Europe, but we are a brave team, very positive people that love the challenge, and tomorrow is a massive challenge. We are going to compete, and at the same time try to enjoy, because it’s a game to enjoy.
“I think that’s fantastic. We need to think we can win – we always think in this way – and then what happens will be a consequence of our performance. If we are capable of performing in the way that we are normally used to doing, I’m sure tomorrow we will be close to a win and advancing to the next stage.”