Football: Stars align for Tottenham

Tottenham striker Harry Kane (centre) in training with his team-mates. Spurs have not beaten European champions Real Madrid in five previous attempts and they will need Kane, who was badly missed at Old Trafford as Spurs slumped to a 1-0 defeat by Ma
Tottenham striker Harry Kane (centre) in training with his team-mates. Spurs have not beaten European champions Real Madrid in five previous attempts and they will need Kane, who was badly missed at Old Trafford as Spurs slumped to a 1-0 defeat by Manchester United last Saturday, to be firing on all cylinders if they are to emerge with a famous victory and seal progress into the knockout stages.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

With Kane back to lead line and Real in poor form & hit by injuries, Spurs will go for 1st win

LONDON • Mauricio Pochettino knows there may never be a perfect time to face Real Madrid. But with Harry Kane in his Tottenham side, the Premier League club have every chance of getting their first victory over the Spanish giants.

The two sides meet in the Champions League today at Wembley, where qualification into the knockout stages awaits the winner.

Kane, scorer of 13 club goals this season, missed Saturday's 1-0 league defeat at Manchester United with a hamstring injury. But he showed no visible sign of discomfort during a light session at Spurs' training base in north London yesterday. And Pochettino expects the striker to be fit for the showdown with the European holders.

His return would be a huge boost for Tottenham, given that Kane has scored five goals in three European games so far.

"We're very confident," Spurs manager Pochettino said. "He's on the list. Maybe it's possible for him to play but I don't want to say 100 per cent.

"He trained today but it is important we make the right decision."

Tottenham are level on seven points with Real in Group H after the sides shared a 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu two weeks ago.

THERE FOR THE TAKING

Harry is a very important player on and off the pitch for this group, and having him is always a major boost but definitely we can beat them.

JAN VERTONGHEN, Tottenham defender, believes Spurs can claim the scalp of the European champions at Wembley.

The LaLiga champions, however, have struggled domestically. Following a shock 1-2 loss to newly-promoted Girona on Sunday, Real trail leaders Barcelona by eight points. They have never overturned such a big deficit to win LaLiga.

Their injury list today includes former Spurs star Gareth Bale, defender Raphael Varane, midfielder Mateo Kovacic, goalkeeper Keylor Navas and full-back Dani Carvajal.

But Pochettino insisted that it might not be the best time to face a wounded Real.

"Sometimes, you can believe it's better after a defeat or sometimes when they're relaxed and confident," the Argentinian told a press conference. "We need to be focused on us, not them. We will watch nothing related with Girona. We only analyse the Champions League games and when we played them 15 days ago.

"Real have the capacity within matches two days apart to change completely. That is why it's important for us to be focused on us and what we can do."

Spurs have not beaten Real in five previous attempts.

"It's a good opportunity. We have ahead a chance to change that stat and that is our challenge," added Pochettino. "When I praise Real Madrid, it's because they're the best team in the world, but I also believe we can win. I have faith in my players."

Even if Kane does not play, Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen believes they can match Real.

"Harry is a very important player on and off the pitch for this group, and having him is always a major boost but definitely we can beat them," said the Belgian. "With or without Harry Kane, we go for the win."

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TOTTENHAM V REAL MADRID

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 01, 2017, with the headline 'Stars align for Tottenham'. Print Edition | Subscribe