Football: Squad rotation crucial if Spurs are to upset Barca in key clash

Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean striker Son Heung Min (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring, on Dec 8, 2018.
Tottenham Hotspur's South Korean striker Son Heung Min (centre) celebrates with teammates after scoring, on Dec 8, 2018.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino challenged his squad to fight for silverware on two fronts after Tottenham hauled themselves back into the Premier League title race with a 2-0 victory at Leicester ahead of their must-win Champions League tie at Barcelona tomorrow.

The Spurs manager saw his side brush aside the Foxes on Saturday through goals from Son Heung-min and Dele Alli, despite Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen playing only cameo roles off the bench.

The pair will now be fresh for their trip to the Nou Camp, with Spurs needing to beat the Spanish champions to guarantee progress to the last 16. Barca have already qualified as Group B winners.

If Spurs are to pull off the unthinkable - their Champions League campaign had appeared to be over after just one point from the opening three games - Pochettino knows even his squad players have a role to play.

"There's no point players playing every three days. It's not healthy, they (the regular starters) need to rest and need some time to breathe," said the Argentinian.

"The most important thing is being genuine in the trust you have in the squad. We are showing we trust all the players.

"In this busy period, everybody needs to be focused."

ALL HAVE A ROLE

There's no point players playing every three days. It's not healthy, they (the regular starters) need to rest and need some time to breathe.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, who believes in utilising his squad fully.

Victory at the King Power Stadium moved Spurs back into third, just six points off the top of the table, a fine feat despite their raft of injury problems and delays over moving into their new stadium.

Pochettino called Spurs' fifth win in six league games "massive", giving his side the confidence "to start thinking about Barcelona".

"The reality is we are there, fighting Liverpool, City, Chelsea and Arsenal. We will arrive in the best condition but in front of us will be Barcelona, one of the best teams in Europe," he said.

The only downside was an injury to defender Serge Aurier that could rule him out of their midweek trip.

First-choice right-back Kieran Trippier is already missing but Pochettino backed Kyle-Walker Peters, who made his league debut as Aurier's replacement, to "give of his best".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 10, 2018, with the headline 'Squad rotation crucial if Spurs are to upset Barca in key clash'. Print Edition | Subscribe