The best part about playing Champions League football is getting to play the best teams in Europe and Tottenham Hotspur will certainly have that opportunity this fall as they will welcome Inter Milan, PSV Eindhoven, and a little Spanish club called Barcelona to their new stadium or Wembley or Twickenham or wherever the hell it is that Spurs are going to play their games.
This group represents a difficult test for Tottenham, but it’s exactly the kind of test that Spurs and their fans want. Certainly, there are easier groups that spurs could have been drawn in. Group D, which features Porto and Schalke, springs readily to mind. Of the English teams, Spurs seem to have the most difficult group, though Liverpool will be tested by Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli.
So let’s take a quick look at the teams Spurs will be facing in Group B.
Barcelona almost went unbeaten in La Liga last year and also won a domestic cup. Their main disappointment, however, in their first season under manager Ernesto Valverde, was their failure to advance past the quarterfinals of the Champions League.
This summer Barcelona sold Paulinho and, like Spurs, somehow made a profit on him. The big change, of course, is that Andres Iniesta is no longer at the club. Otherwise, Barca unloaded quite a few of their fringe players and then added some interesting new pieces and Arturo Vidal. It seems that the goal at the Camp Nou is to reduce the average age of an already old squad, but it’s unclear how much actual quality has been added to the team.
Barca are intent on progressing deep into the Champions League this season and their squad still has Lionel Messi and a ton of other good players who should be on the decline. Don’t get me wrong, Barca are still good, but if you ever wanted to play them, this would be a great time to do it.
PSV claimed their third Eredivisie title in the last four seasons last year. I’m not going to pretend to have watched them a lot, but here’s what you need to know: they’re managed by former Barcelona player Mark van Bommel who was appointed this summer after Phillip Cocu left to manage Fenerbahce. Van Bommel was previously the U-19 coach at PSV and has never managed another top flight team before. So far, the results have been fine, as PSV have won their opening three league matches—though they did lose the Johann Cruyff Shield to Feyenoord on penalties.
In terms of the squad, PSV rely on Hirving Lozano for pace and goals and I guess Luuk de Jong plays there too. This summer the signed Erick Gutierrez from Pachuca and Angellino from Manchester City. PSV are hoping those signings are enough to offset the losses of Santiago Arias and Marco van Ginkel.
Oh, the memories. Spurs will have the opportunity to revist the site of some recent European glory when they return to the San Siro to play Inter Milan. Inter have been working hard to return to European glory over the past few years and this is their first time playing in the Champions League since 2011-12. Inter only finished fourth in Serie A last season, but under manager Luciano Spalletti, Inter played some good football and were in the title hunt for longer than they had any business being, despite ultimately finishing 23 points behind champions Juventus.
Milan have a whole host of widely known players and made a number of seemingly good signings this summer. New players such as Stefan de Vrij, Radja Nainggolan, Lauturo Martinez, and Keita Balde join the existing core of Mauro Icardi, Ivan Perisic, and Marcelo Brozovic.
All in all, this group represents a significant challenge for Spurs, but it will bring three big European clubs to London to play some equally big matches. Tottenham should probably feel good about their chances of advancing, but lets here from you. How do you feel about the draw?