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Tuesday 16 October 2018

'Spurs ready to make giant Euro leap'

Champions League: Tottenham v Juventus, Live RTE2/BT Sp 2, KO 7.45

Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane is pictured in training ahead of tonight’s Champions League Last-16 second leg clash with Juventus at Wembley. Photo: Reuters
Tottenham Hotspur striker Harry Kane is pictured in training ahead of tonight’s Champions League Last-16 second leg clash with Juventus at Wembley. Photo: Reuters

Mauricio Pochettino believes his "brave" Tottenham side are ready to take another major step in Europe.

Spurs host Juventus on tonight in the second leg of their round-of-16 tie at Wembley.

The north Londoners have every chance of knocking out the Italian champions - finalists in two of the last three seasons - after coming back from two goals down to draw 2-2 in the first leg in Turin.

Having already beaten Real Madrid in the group stage, Tottenham's reputation across the continent continues to grow and Pochettino has told his players to grasp their latest opportunity to make another big statement.

"It's been step by step, a little step every season," said the Spurs boss.

Italian job: Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain is pictured during training yesterday
Italian job: Juventus’ Gonzalo Higuain is pictured during training yesterday

"You can see the team is more mature. We are going to enjoy tomorrow.

"We know very well we are playing one of the best teams in Europe but we are a brave team and we are very positive people.

"We need to think that we can win, we always think in this way. If we are able to play in the way we normally do then we will be close to winning.

Reputation

"After the group stage we improved our reputation in Europe. Last season was a massive disappointment to be out in the first stage, but this year of course the people in Europe start to respect Tottenham.

"They respect the philosophy we build and the football we play. We feel we have respect for the brand of football we show, they respect us in Europe we feel."

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino

Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris knows a clean sheet will be enough to send Tottenham through to the quarter-finals.

He said: "We expect a tough game. It will demand a lot of thought and energy. It's the best way to enjoy this competition.

"If you don't think too much, and look for a draw, especially against an experienced team like Juve, you could be in trouble.

"I feel the club and team is growing stronger every season. Most of the players have been here for two, three or four years together.

"Now we must enjoy it. We have arrived at the most important part of the season and we win or lose everything.

"Our ambition is to improve, to develop, and the first step is to reduce the gap to the best teams in Europe.

"That's not just in one season, but season by season and for the future."

Toby Alderweireld will miss the Wembley showdown due to his hamstring problem while fellow defender Serge Aurier is suspended. Meanwhile, Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri hinted he could start Paulo Dybala, Gonzalo Higuain and Douglas Costa, but insists "the pressure is on Tottenham Hotspur."

Mario Mandzukic, Federico Bernardeschi, Juan Cuadrado and Benedikt Howedes have not made the trip, but Dybala and Higuain should be ready to start.

"Of course, we prefer not to go to extra time, because we have a short bench at the moment. I don't know how Tottenham will play, but considering the first leg result, there's more pressure on them because they are the favourites," he said.

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