Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Prediction: Tottenham vs Barcelona

Verdict: Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 5/6

Bookmaker: Bet365

Desperate to end their three-match winless run, defending La Liga champions Barcelona will travel to Wembley on Wednesday night to face off against Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs side.

Tottenham

Starting with Wednesday nights hosts, Tottenham will be desperate to kick-start their Champions League campaign after their defeat against Inter Milan. Despite leading at the San Siro, Mauricio Pochettino’s side slipped to a 2-1 loss in the European opener. However, after suffering three defeats on the bounce last month, the Lilywhites now have a hat-trick of wins under their belts. Beating Huddersfield 2-0  on Saturday, Tottenham will be looking for England captain Harry Kane to lead from the front. Scoring a brace against the Terriers over the weekend, the 25-year-old has nine in his last 11 Champions League appearances. While the Whites did win 100% of their group matches in Europe last season, Pochenttino will know his side must improve on their recent defensive issues. The North London club have now recorded just one clean sheet in their last six matches in all competitions, a run stemming back to August.

Team News

Eriksen (abdominal), Dembele (thigh) and Vertonghen (hamstring) join Dele Alli (hamstring) on the sidelines with injuries starting to pile up at Spurs, while Aurier is still not ready to return from injury.

But goalkeeper Hugo Lloris returns after a thigh injury and will start.

Barcelona

As for Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona side, while the visitors started the season in their usual empathic fashion, the defending La Liga champions have hit a worrying run of form. Coming off the back of a disappointing 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao over the weekend, Barcelona have now failed to win any of their last three matches, including a 2-1 defeat against Leganes. If they are to carry on their impressive recent record against English opposition, they will unsurprisingly need talisman Lionel Messi to be at his best. With five La Liga goals to his name already, the four-time Ballon d’Or winner also has 20 goals against English sides in the Champions League. However, their struggles away from the Nou Camp have not improved over the years. Crashing out of last years tournamnet conceding three away at Roma, Barca have now managed to win just one of their last seven away matches in Europe.

Team News

Barcelona will be without Sergi Roberto and Samuel Umtiti, with the latter suspended after being sent off against PSV Eindhoven.

Key Factors to Consider

  • Pochettino has won only once in nine previous meetings with Barcelona as a manager in all competitions (drew three, lost five), all with former club Espanyol.
  • Away from home, Barcelona have won just one of their last seven Champions League games (drew three, lost three), a 1-0 win over Portuguese side Sporting CP in last season’s group stage.
  • Messi has scored more goals (20) and provided more assists (six) against English clubs in the Champions League than against sides from any other nation.
  • Barcelona striker Luis Suarez has been directly involved in six goals in his last three appearances against Tottenham in all competitions.
  • The Spanish champions, however, have failed to win their last three La Liga outings on the bounce.

Conclusion

On paper, it has all the makings of a game that will produce plenty of chances at both ends. Given the fact that the two sides have now recorded just two clean sheets in their last 12 matches combined, both Harry Kane and Lionel Messi should fancy their chances of carrying on their stellar European records. Backing both teams to score and over 2.5 goals seems like the smartest bet on Wednesday night.

Verdict: Both teams to score and over 2.5 goals

Best Odds: 5/6

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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