Massimiliano Allegri and Juventus head to Wembley to face Spurs as the two sides prepare to contest the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Arguably facing their biggest challenge of recent years, the North Londoners will be looking to defend their two away goals to secure a place in the quarter finals. It goes without saying that any further additions to the scoreline will be greatly welcomed.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men fought back from an early two goal deficit in the first leg to securing 2-2 draw in Turin last month. Having earlier beating Spanish giants Real Madrid in an emphatic home win, they should be feeling confident in their ability to progress.
Conceding two goals, particularly at home, was a rare experience for Juventus, but they’ll be arriving in London without fear or trepidation. They also arrive unbeaten in all competitions since November.
Tottenham boast the privilege of being relatively injury free. The only significant issue is the absence of Toby Alderweireld, still recovering from a thigh injury. He did make a brief appearance against Newport in the FA Cup but hasn’t featured since.
There’s much media speculation surrounding the former Ajax defender, rumoured to be the centre of a wage dispute.He is yet to sign a new deal for the North London Club, fuelling rumours of a summer move.
Trippier takes his place
Kieran Trippier will appear ahead of Serge Aurier, who is still under suspension. It’s unclear whether Ben Davies will start ahead of Danny Rose, though on recent form, it’s likely Davies will be lacing his boots.
Fitness plagued Mousa Dembele took a slight knock in the Huddersfield game, but there’s a no indication he is unavailable. Tottenham fans will be relieved to see the Belgian start alongside midfield maestro Christian Eriksen.
To the relief of Spurs fans stalwart defender Jan Vertonghen has returned to the squad. There’s also been speculation as to whether in-form Heung Min Son will feature in the match. More experienced Erik Lamela is available, Dele Alli, and the new addition Lucas Moura. Moura has quickly showed his potential in limited pitch time.
Aint no Son-shine?
However, the Korean star put in a stunning performance against Huddersfield on Saturday, bagging a spectacular brace. He was surprisingly substituted, despite being on a hat trick. Spurs fans justified the move as preservation. Therefore it’s likely Son will at least feature on the bench on Wednesday, thus his early departure. Pochettino will be looking to rotate these four, causing problems for the Juve defence.
The Italian giants will be without full-back Mattia De Sciglio. Juan Cuadrado and Federico Bernardeschi are also expected to miss out. Striker Gonzalo Higuain has taken a slight knock, but featured in training.
With Spurs holding the away goal advantage from the first leg, Juventus’ hopes of progressing rely on their ability to score more goals than their hosts on Wednesday.
Allegri “Tottenham are different to Lazio, they don’t defend as well.”
Juventus boss Massimiliano believes his players’ will succeed. Following a recent victory over Lazio, he hinted that Spurs’ weakness lies in their defence. He is confident his side will overcome their home advantage and away goals.
Allegri told a press conference after a tie with Lazio his thoughts on the imminent clash: “Tottenham are different compared to Lazio, they don’t defend as well.”
He went on to say “This win certainly helps our confidence as we will have to be good and lucky on Wednesday.”
Pochettino: “It will be a fantastic battle”
Mauricio Pochettino somewhat more complimentary of his sides’ opponents.
He told a press conference on Tuesday: “We face tomorrow one of the best teams in the history of football, that played two Champions League finals in the last three years. It will be a fantastic battle.”
It could be said that Tottenham displayed some sloppy defending to concede where they shouldn’t have. The best example of which was in the first leg of this tie. But Allegri will know his men face one of the strongest attack forces left in the competition. Headed by superstar Harry Kane, who will be looking to add to his ever growing goal tally. And his price tag.
Flanked by Dele Alli, Eriksen, Lamela or Son and a lurking Lucas Moura, it will be a force for Allegri and his charges to contain.
Higuain v Kane
Some would argue that Spurs should adopt a defensive stance, protecting the away goal advantage. However, it’s more likely that Pochettino will stick to the formula that saw his young side top their group. Spurs just don’t play that way.
Fierce defender Giorgio Chiellini and company excel at closing teams down, boasting an enviable defensive record. However, after conceding a 2-0 lead in Turin two weeks ago, they will have to both defend and attack successfully on Wednesday to overturn their hosts, booking a place in the Champion’s League quarter-finals. They will be relying on striker Higuain to snatch a precious away strike.
Tottenham Hotspur V Juventus will take place at Wembley Stadium, London on Wednesday 7th March at 19.45 GMT
Tomorrow. Big @ChampionsLeague knockout game under the lights at @wembleystadium. Can't wait. #COYS #THFC #UCL pic.twitter.com/hJbKzaotFM
— Harry Kane (@HKane) March 6, 2018
Tottenham’s likely starting XI : Lloris,Trippier, Sanchez, Vertonghen, Davies Dier, Dembele, Alli, Eriksen, Kane, Son
Juventus’ likely starting XI : Buffon, Barzagli, Chiellini, Benatia, Lichtsteiner, Pjanic, Asamoah, Matuidi, Khedira, Dybala, Higuain