Spurs v Juventus - Mauricio's preview
07 March 2018|Tottenham Hotspur
Excitement, enjoyment - key words from Mauricio Pochettino ahead of a huge UEFA Champions League Round of 16 second leg against Juventus at Wembley this evening (7.45pm).
The tie is finely balanced after our outstanding comeback from 2-0 down inside 10 minutes to draw the first leg 2-2 in Turin on 13 February, scoring twice against a team that had conceded just one goal in their previous 16 matches. Since then, Juve have won 1-0 on three occasions.
If we keep a clean sheet ourselves this time we’ll progress to the quarter-finals of the competition for the third time in our history (1962, 2011*). Any win will take us through. A 0-0 or 1-1 draw will take us through, 2-2 and we’re into extra time.
It’s a fascinating match, but Mauricio doesn’t want the players worrying too much about what they might need to do to progress before a ball is kicked. For the manager, it’s about the moment.
“We don’t need to think about what is going to happen,” he said. “We need to enjoy the game, to feel free and to give our best.
“That is the key in football, in every single game.
“It’s such an important game for everyone at the Club and we’re so excited to face a team like Juventus with the possibility of going to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
“We know very well that we need to be competitive and to perform at our best because we’re going to face one of the best teams of the last three seasons, a team capable of reaching two finals (2015, 2017) in the Champions League.
“Everyone is excited. I’m always excited to play against Rochdale, Newport, Huddersfield or Juventus. We’re competitive and we love the competition. Of course, in the Champions League, you feel different and the atmosphere is different. We can’t wait to start.”
On the challenge of breaking down Juve
Mauricio: “They are one of the best teams in Europe and they don’t concede too many goals. We deserve big credit because we scored twice there (in Turin) but we know this will be a tough game against an experienced team, experienced players that know how to compete in this situation. I think we’re more mature, we’re competitive and we’ll do our best to get through to the next stage.”
On the return of Juve playmaker Paulo Dybala, injured for the first leg
Mauricio: “Dybala is a player who can provide the team with different qualities. We’re aware of him. It’s difficult to stop this kind of talented player but we need to do our job, to try to dominate them, force them to play deeper and then of course try to avoid the counter-attack because they are so dangerous when they go forward.”
*We reached the semi-finals of what was then the European Cup at our first attempt in 1961-62, losing to Benfica 4-3 on aggregate in March/April 1962. The European Cup became the Champions League in 1992. We returned to the competition in 2010-11, reaching the quarter-finals, where we were beaten over two legs by Real Madrid in April, 2011.