Spurs' guns will blaze in Barca

Pochettino insists they believe they can beat Barca at Nou Camp to guarantee last-16 spot

LONDON • Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino insists his men will travel to Barcelona on Dec 11 in the "belief and faith that they can win" their Champions League clash against the Spaniards.

Spurs must do what no English Premier League club have done in 11 years - win at the Nou Camp if they are to be guaranteed an unlikely place in the last 16.

Christian Eriksen's 80th-minute winner gave Tottenham a deserved 1-0 victory over Inter Milan on Wednesday, a result that lifted them above the Italians in Group B.

But they must match Inter's result in the final round and, with Inter hosting bottom club PSV Eindhoven, Spurs will almost certainly require a win on their first visit to Barcelona since losing 1-0 in the 1982 Cup-Winners' Cup semi-final.

The 25-time Spanish champions' last defeat by an English club at their Nou Camp home came against Liverpool in a last-16 Champions League tie in 2007.

Bayern Munich are the last side to win away in the Champions League against Barcelona and Barca are unbeaten at home in the competition since April 2013, a run of 28 games.

However, Pochettino believes the dynamic of their group has changed after their morale-boosting triumph over Inter.

"Now, we are in a situation that depends on us. All is possible in football. I never say it is mission impossible, you need to believe. We will go with all guns blazing now," he said.

Tottenham's Christian Eriksen came off the bench to score the winner against Inter Milan and keep the English side's hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League alive. Spurs face Barcelona in their final group game knowing any
Tottenham's Christian Eriksen came off the bench to score the winner against Inter Milan and keep the English side's hopes of progressing to the knockout stages of the Champions League alive. Spurs face Barcelona in their final group game knowing anything less than a win might not be enough. PHOTO: REUTERS

  • '07

    Last English club, Liverpool, to win at Barcelona. The Reds went on to finish runners-up to AC Milan.

  • '13

     Last foreign club, Bayern Munich, to win at Barcelona. Bayern won 3-0 to take the semi-final tie 7-0 and went on to become European champions. Barca's home unbeaten run in the competition is now 28 games.

"We have big respect for Barcelona. They are one of the best teams in Europe and have unbelievable players. It will be so tough.

"Of course, we have to show again a great level and compete at our best. To arrive in Barcelona and compete, we will need fresh legs, minds and no injuries. We need to manage that and rotate the squad."

And match-winner Eriksen agreed, saying that the team "know what we have to play for".

The Denmark midfielder, who came off the bench to score, felt it was all set up for Spurs to complete their escape act, which had looked dead and buried after one point from their opening three games.

"We still have one more game to go, our focus was to win this and now our next one is Barca," he told BT Sport. "It will be tough but fun."

Pochettino also took the opportunity to praise Moussa Sissoko, insisting he always had faith in the player even when most observers had written him off as an expensive misfit.

The France midfielder, signed from Newcastle in 2016 for £30 million (S$52.7 million), was a bit-part player in his debut season.

But he has been revitalised this term, starting the last six Premier League games. And it was his marauding run that assisted Eriksen, and Pochettino hailed him as "a key part of the success".

"His teammates are so happy the fans are now starting to show the love," he added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2018, with the headline 'Spurs' guns will blaze in Barca'. Print Edition | Subscribe