Monday, January 21, 2019

Prediction: Barcelona vs Tottenham

Verdict: Harry Kane to score anytime

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: Bet365

Tottenham travel to Group B winners Barcelona knowing victory in the Nou Camp will secure their spot in the knockout phase of the Champions League.

Barcelona

Starting with the hosts, bouncing back from their shock 4-3 loss to Real Betis last month, Ernesto Valverde’s side appear to back to their imperial best. Picking up a 4-0 win in Saturday’s Catalonia derby against Espanyol, Barcelona once again hold a three-point advantage at the top of the La Liga table. It isn’t just in Spain where the former Champions League winners have caught the eye. Yet to be beaten in Europe this season, they have already confirmed their spot at Group B winners and their spot in the knockout stage. Scoring yet another brace over the weekend, there is no doubt that Spurs will be dreading a potential showdown with five-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi. Although he might feature from the bench, Barca’s talisman has been involved in 28 goals (22 goals, 6 assists) in 29 Champions League appearances against English clubs. While their form in the final third has been as consistent as many would expect, Barca’s defensive issues will be causing Valverde some concern. Tuesday’s hosts have recorded just one clean sheet in their last four European outings and have now kept just two clean sheets at the Nou Camp in their last eight appearances.

Team News

Barca will rest striker Luis Suarez following his recent knee injury, Valverde refused to be drawn on whether Lionel Messi would also be left out.

Ousmane Dembele’s participation is also in doubt, after the 21-year-old was punished for arriving late to a practice session on Sunday.

Rafinha (cruciate), Sergi Roberto (hamstring), Samuel Umtiti (knee) and Arthur (knee) will also be on the sidelines.

Tottenham

As for the visitors, it really is make or break time for Mauricio Pochettino’s side. Despite failing to win their opening three Champions League outings, Tottenham have shown real signs of improvement. The Lilywhites will be hoping for a favour from PSV in their trip to the San Siro, Spurs will know they must only better Inter Milan’s result on Tuesday to book their spot in the knockout stage. Coming off the back of a 2-0 win away at Leicester on Saturday night, they have now won their last two on the bounce following on from their 4-2 defeat in the north London derby a fortnight ago. Although Tottenham do hold their own fate on Tuesday, Pochettino will be concerned about his sides away record, particularly in Europe. They have failed to win any of their Champions League matches away from Wembley in this years tournament and have recorded just two wins in their last eight. If they are to break that duck, Spurs will be looking for leading goalscorer Harry Kane to lead from the front. The England skipper has scored seven goals in his seven Champions League away games.

Team News

Tottenham will be without injured full-backs Serge Aurier and Kieran Trippier, meaning Kyle Walker-Peters could start in Europe for the first time.

Juan Foyth is unavailable as he is not in the club’s Champions League squad but Kane, Eriksen and Erik Lamela are expected to return.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Barcelona are unbeaten in their previous three meetings with Tottenham Hotspur in all competitions, winning the last two.
  • The hosts have won their Champions League group for the 12th consecutive season.
  • Barcelona are unbeaten in their last 28 home Champions League games.
  • Tottenham are winless away from home in the Champions League this season.
  • Spurs have scored in all bar one of their matches in all competitions this season.

Conclusion

With Ernesto Valverde confirming that Barcelona will make several changes ahead of Tuesday’s clash, Spurs should see this as an opportunity to book their spot in the knockout stage and compete a remarkable turnaround. With Barca now recording just two clean sheets at the Nou Camp in their last eight matches across all competitions, we’re backing Harry Kane to carry on his impressive Champions League goalscoring record.

Verdict: Harry Kane to score anytime

Best Odds: 1/1

Bookmaker: Bet365

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Dunstan


Formerly of The Independent, Tom is a freelance football and boxing journalist from Essex, England. Currently working for three online publications, Tom is a graduate of the University of Falmouth and has spent the last two years writing across Australia, New Zealand and Asia. He can be followed at @IamTomDunstan

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