Champions League Last 16 Preview – Spurs vs Juventus

Spurs host Juventus at Wembley tonight in their Champions League last 16 second leg tie. The game is finely poised at 2-2 after the first leg in Turin, when goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen canceled out an early Gonzalo Higuain double.

Spurs will go into this game full of confidence. Things were going really badly for them in Turin in the first leg, when they found themselves 2-0 down after just nine minutes. But they found a way back into the game through Harry Kane, and Christian Eriksen equalised from a free-kick with 20 minutes to play. Spurs will know they have what it takes to beat Juventus at Wembley, and come into this game in good form.

They went to Rochdale and drew in the FA Cup immediately after the game in Italy, but they followed that up by beating Crystal Palace and Huddersfield in the league, and they beat Rochdale 6-1 in their FA Cup replay. They’re unbeaten in this season’s Champions League, and only Barcelona and Liverpool share that record with them. November’s 3-1 win against Real Madrid at Wembley will give them real confidence, while they have also beaten Arsenal and Man Utd ‘at home’ lately.

Spurs were really impressive in the first leg in Turin, and if they play as well again tonight they should manage to go through to the quarter final. Mousa Dembele was instrumental in the game in Italy, and they’ll hope he can be as good as that tonight. He has been really good for quite a while now, but he really got the plaudits he deserved after that game, when he ran the show in midfield. Christian Eriksen and Harry Kane were also brilliant in that game, like they usually are. They’ll surely show up again tonight, and they’ll be hoping to put a couple of goals past the legendary Gianluigi Buffon.

Mauricio Pochettino said: “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.”

Toby Alderweireld will miss the game, as the defender has a hamstring injury. Serge Aurier is suspended.

Like Spurs, Juventus come into this one in a good run of form. They’ve won their three games since the 2-2 draw, beating Torino, Atalanta and Lazio. Each game finished 1-0 to the Italian champions. The two goals Juventus conceded against Spurs in the first leg is the only time they’ve conceded since December 30, 2016, when they beat Verona 3-1.

The three goals they conceded against Spurs and Verona are the only goals they conceded in their last 20 games. It shows just how strong they are defensively, and that makes me wonder why they weren’t better against Spurs in the first leg. As good as Spurs are, Juventus weren’t amazing defensively, and I wonder if we’ll see them stronger at the back tonight. If they were to go 1-0 up, we could see a real Italian defensive job from them and Spurs could find it very difficult.

Massimiliano Allegri told Juventus’ official website: “I don’t know how Spurs are going to play tomorrow. We’re going to have to be a lot better technically than we were in the first leg, especially in the second half. It will be like a final, in a way, because we have to get a result otherwise we are going out. We created chances at home in the first leg and we’ll have to do the same tomorrow night. The most important thing is that we be positive.

“I think it’s right to say that best team will win. It’s about taking your chances. This is what happens in games at a high level. Similar to Lazio it was a very tough, very physical game for us, but right at the end Dybala took his chance to win the game. In comparison, I think that tomorrow there will be more space and more chances created, but the important thing is that we defend well.

“It won’t be possible to play in the same way as we did against Bayern Munich two years ago, as we have different players rather than quick players who were very good on the counter attack. Instead, tomorrow will be about possession and taking our chances.”

Juan Cuadrado, Federico Bernardeschi and Mario Mandzukic will all miss out for the Italians tonight. They have Mattia de Sciglio available.

I think this is going to be a very interesting game. It’s one I’ve been looking forward to since the first leg, and it should be a good one. I think Spurs definitely have what it takes to win the game, but they’re going to have to be really good and take their chances when they get them.

I think it’s going to be very important for Spurs to score first. As I said above, if Juventus score first they will likely sit back and defend. The Italians are masters at defending, and they’ll likely make it really difficult if they take the lead. They’ll keep it as tight as possible, and they’ll surely defend better than they did in the first leg.

But Spurs shouldn’t be too worried about Juventus. They definitely have what it takes to win this game tonight, and they’ll be confident they can do that. Their attacking players can trouble any side, and Juventus will be really worried about Eriksen, Alli, Kane and whoever plays out of Son and Lamela. Dembele will keep things ticking over in midfield, and they have a solid defence to give them a good platform. I think they can get through this game tonight, but it’s going to be an interesting one.

The game kicks off at 7:45pm, so the team news will be out at 6:45pm. You’ll get that on Twitter. I’ll be watching the game, but I won’t be tweeting about it live unfortunately. Enjoy what should be a cracker.

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