Jose Mourinho said he was going to rotate for Tottenham Hotspur’s final Champions League group stage match against Bayern Munich. And he meant it. Spurs released their team news ahead of their trip to Munich, and Mourinho is leaving ten first team players in London as he seeks to give opportunities to players who up until now haven’t gotten much of a look.
Spurs announced that six players are recovering from injury and will not be traveling to focus on their recovery — goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm, left back Ben Davies, and midfielders Erik Lamela, Tanguy Ndombele, and Harry Winks. In addition, Mourinho has opted to rest Harry Kane, Dele, Jan Vertonghen, and Serge Aurier, leaving them in London to train.
Mourinho said, in a statement released by the club, that the decision on who to leave behind was made because Jose wants a look at some the players whom he hasn’t had the opportunity to see in action.
“It’s an important game because we’re representing Tottenham. That always gives us a sense of responsibility. Some of the boys haven’t had a chance to play many minutes since I arrived. This is a good opportunity for some of them to play and show what they’re capable of.
“We are going to focus more on us than on Bayern. We are going to try to develop our model of play, obviously with different players and bodies. That’s the way we’re going to approach the match.”
The one person who reportedly isn’t happy about this decision is Kane. According to Dan Kilpatrick at the Standard, Harry is understanding, but not thrilled with the decision, because he has his eye on a Champions League golden boot trophy. Kane is currently third on the list with six goals in the competition, behind Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski’s 10 (and who might also be rested for tomorrow’s match) and RB Salzburg’s Erling Haarland’s 8 strikes.
So who IS going to play tomorrow? Your guess is as good as ours. We could see players like Juan Foyth, Kyle Walker-Peters, Ryan Sessegnon, and Troy Parrott get minutes. The lack of recognized fullbacks probably means Kyle Walker-Peters at right back and possibly a youngster like Denis Cirkin at left back, or another player out of position. Brandon Austin, who just signed a new contract today, could be preferred to Paulo Gazzaniga if Mourinho wants to keep his only senior keeper from injury. And of course, there’s Giovani Lo Celso, whom Mourinho apparently quite likes but who hasn’t gotten more than mop-up minutes since Jose’s appointment.
We also don’t really know who Bayern interim manager Hans Dieter-Flick will start either. Bayern’s in the same boat as Spurs — their progression out of the group stage, and their status as group stage winners, is already confirmed, so they could also rest some of their more important players.
No matter what, we’re going to see some faces that we don’t usually see, and that’s pretty exciting. It’s a glorified scrimmage, and that means the pressure is off for both sides.