Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Pochettino believes Tottenham are better than ever ahead of Juventus showdown

SoccerNews in Serie A 11 Feb 2018

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Mauricio Pochettino believes Tottenham team are performing better than ever as they prepare to take on Juventus in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Spurs began 2018 with some disappointing performances, drawing Premier League games with West Ham and Southampton before they were held by lowly Newport County in the FA Cup.

Their form in the last two weeks has returned to its very best, though, with Saturday’s 1-0 win over Arsenal in the north London derby coming after victories over Manchester United and Newport in the Cup replay, as well as a 2-2 draw at Liverpool.

Pochettino’s side have arguably impressed the most in Europe this season, finishing top of their Champions League group ahead of holders Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, and he thinks now is the ideal time to test themselves against last year’s beaten finalists.

“I’m going through the best time since I started coaching Tottenham,” he told La Gazzetta dello sport. “The results against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal gave us confidence. Now we know we can face the big teams with a different spirit.

“It’s the best time to play against Juventus. They’ve played in two Champions League finals in three years. But we’re ready and we have confidence in our chances. Let’s see what happens.

“In theory, the game in Turin [is key] because we face the away leg first, but when a knockout is decided in one hundred and eighty minutes, you never know what the decisive moment will be.

“We’ll be the usual Tottenham. We have our own identity of playing and we’ll respect it, as we respect Juventus.

“Against the Italians, the first requirement is intelligence. You have to use your head. In Italy, tactics and defences are some of the strengths and Juve perfectly represent that culture.”

Harry Kane was again Spurs’ hero on Saturday, heading home his 23rd league goal in 26 appearances this season to secure all three points.

Pochettino described the England star as his team’s “blessing and future” after the match and he admits he is still amazed by the striker’s rise to prominence.

“Kane is so strong. For three years, I’ve often repeated that he’s one of the best strikers in the world, but some people still think I say it because Harry is one of my players,” said Pochettino.

“His rise in these few years has been incredible. The truth is, as well as scoring with great consistency, he has the ability to settle matches with a single shot, as happened against Arsenal.

“Tottenham are not just about him, but he represents the future of this club.”

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