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Sunday 24 September 2017

Pochettino wants Euro lift at Wembley time

 

Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: PA Wire
Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: PA Wire

Mauricio Pochettino admits Tottenham fluffed their first attempt at the Champions League under him last season but insists there will be no excuses second time round.

Spurs host Borussia Dortmund at Wembley tonight as they look to learn from the mistakes of a disappointing opening campaign under Pochettino at Europe’s top table.

After failing to progress from a relatively kind group that featured CSKA Moscow, Leverkusen and Monaco, Pochettino reflected his squad had struggled to cope with the physical and mental demands of the Champions League.

They are one season wiser this year but have also been handed a far tougher draw that, as well as Dortmund, includes reigning champions Real Madrid in Group H.

Cypriot side APOEL complete the line-up and it may be that Tottenham’s best chance of qualification is to beat Dortmund to second place. They cannot afford another slow start like 12 months ago.

“Last season was our first experience of the Champions League - previously we play Europa League, for 98, 99 per cent of the players, and for myself too,” Pochettino said.

“That experience (of last season) is important. We know very well what the competition demands from you, and I think that is so important.

“It was a very painful experience because we could not be at the level we should have been but today, it’s not an excuse. We know that it will be very tough. We need to be ready to compete at a higher level.”

The Argentinian has successfully cemented Tottenham among the Premier League’s elite and now he has Europe’s super clubs in his sights.

“Remember me, three years ago I said we needed to reduce the gap with the big sides and three years after we are fighting to win the Premier League,” Pochettino said.

“Why not now start again to create the same in the Champions League and try to reduce the gap with these clubs?”

Tottenham v B Dortmund

Live BT Sp 3, KO 7.45

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