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Tue 05 November 2019, 20:03|Tottenham Hotspur

Mauricio Pochettino expects a stern test against a team that’s renowned for being particularly strong at home, as he explained to us in his latest five-point preview ahead of Wednesday night’s Champions League Group B, matchday four meeting with Crvena zvezda in Belgrade.

1. Crvena zvezda’s home form

Red Star’s Rajko Mitić Stadium is a fortress. They’re unbeaten in five home matches in the Champions League this season, including the qualifying rounds, and beat eventual tournament winners Liverpool 2-0 in the group stage last year. How did Mauricio feel we will cope with the challenge?

Mauricio: “We need to go with the mentality to try to win, to do our job but knowing that it’s going to be difficult. We saw what happened in the last few seasons with English teams like Liverpool playing there, it’s going to be a tough atmosphere and it’s going to be difficult. The Champions League always demands your best from you.”

In his official pre-match press conference at the venue on Tuesday afternoon, the manager added: “I think for everyone it’s a new stadium to play at, a different atmosphere and of course we hear that tomorrow we are going to live a very good experience. Red Star is a very good team. The circumstances that were in London (5-0 win for us a fortnight ago) are not going to be here tomorrow.”

2. A quick start

We scored inside eight minutes in the home game against Crvena zvezda a fortnight ago and were 3-0 up by half-time. How important is a fast start going to be this time?

Mauricio: “I think it’s going to be massive for us. It’s a massive game because we need the three points to be close to qualifying. We want to be in the next stage of the Champions League, that is why we are going, first of all, to prepare for the game in a very good way and then to try to compete in our best form.”

3. Confidence

We’re second in the group ahead of Wednesday night’s action. How confident is Mauricio of securing progress to the next stage?

Mauricio: “Always the confidence is important and the trust in yourself. We have a quality squad to compete to be in the next stage of the Champions League and I think we need to win and show how that quality is there and be better than our opponents.”

4. Aftermath of Everton and Heung-Min Son

Mauricio reported that the players “are recovering” after a tough afternoon at Goodison Park on Sunday, where the 1-1 draw was marred by a bad injury to Everton’s Andre Gomes.

Mauricio: “Yes, it was tough at the weekend with different circumstances that happened but we are okay, we are recovering from Sunday. Of course, it’s a short time, the opponents played Saturday when we played Sunday and then we need to play Champions League in the week but of course we are going to arrive in a good condition. We have a big squad and for sure, (we will) try to find a good balance in the team with maybe some fresh legs to try to be competitive and in the end, to reach the objective – that is to win the game.”

Asked in his press conference about Heung-Min Son in the context of the unfortunate Gomes incident, Mauricio added: “Andre Gomes, today in England, we send again our best wishes and hope he recovers soon. That is most important. Sonny is okay. He was devastated after the action, it was a mix of everything – it was a mix of the injury, it was a mix of the red card. The situation of the game was an emotional moment for everyone and now after a few days, everyone again is available to play. He is in a very good way, of course he feels sorry like everyone but he’s in good form.”

It was tough at the weekend with different circumstances that happened but we are okay, we are recovering from Sunday.

Mauricio Pochettino

5. Harry Kane

Striker Harry Kane missed the Everton match through illness. Will he be able to take to the pitch on Wednesday?

Mauricio: “Yes, he’s good. He feels well but we need to train this afternoon (Tuesday) and then tomorrow decide if it can be possible for him to start or maybe be on the bench.”