Tottenham Hotspur have one of their most important matches of the season ahead of them tomorrow as they travel to the Etihad to face off against Manchester City in the Champions League quarterfinal. Spurs have a scant 1-0 lead over the Citizens after their first leg win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but they’ll now need to hold that lead against a team that is exceptionally good at their home ground.
Spurs released team news today ahead of the match, and while Mauricio Pochettino will continue to be without Harry Kane, Serge Aurier, Eric Dier, and Harry Winks, there’s a chance that both Dele Alli and Erik Lamela will be ready to return for a chance to send Spurs to the Champions League semifinals for the first time ever.
TEAM NEWS: @Serge_Aurier (hamstring), @ericdier (hip flexor) & @HarryWinks (groin) - continuing rehabilitation and conditioning at Training Centre.@HKane (ankle) - continues to undergo assessment.#UCL ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/L1HAI3FbQK— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 16, 2019
TEAM NEWS: @dele_official (hand) & @ErikLamela (hamstring) - returned to training and availability to be assessed ahead of tomorrow’s game. #UCL ⚪️ #COYS pic.twitter.com/39MBZSww65— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) April 16, 2019
Being without Kane sucks, but it is what it is and Spurs have proven that they can at least cope without him. Losing Dele for a match at the Etihad is a much more frightening prospect. Dele was confirmed to have broken his arm in two places in the first match between the two sides and missed Spurs’ win over Huddersfield at the weekend, but he traveled with the side to Manchester, so there appears to be a not-insignificant chance that he will play on Wednesday against City.
Lamela, meanwhile, has had rotten injury luck this spring, but he would be an ideal player to slot into Spurs’ midfield, especially if they plan to try and play counter-attacking football. Having Lamela available could mean that Dele could slot deeper into central midfield alongside Moussa Sissoko, a role he excelled at in the first leg.
Getting past City into the semifinals will be difficult enough without Kane, but it would be even tougher without Dele, who one can make an argument for as Spurs’ most valuable player of the season. Even if he starts the game on the bench, having him as an option to come on late could make the difference.