Champions League

Pochettino says energised Spurs ready for Dortmund test

2019-02-12 19:28
Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino (Getty Images)

London - Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham have shaken off the fatigue from their gruelling schedule as they prepare to face Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday.

Pochettino was frustrated that Tottenham had to play their Premier League match against Leicester on Sunday, while Dortmund were in action 24 hours earlier against Hoffenheim.

The Tottenham boss claimed over the weekend that the extra day of rest for the Bundesliga leaders could put his team at a "massive disadvantage" in the first leg at Wembley.

Adding to Pochettino's frustration, Dortmund have also benefited from a refreshing winter break, while Tottenham have been damaged by injuries to Harry Kane and Dele Alli following the draining Christmas and New Year programme.

But, aware of the dangers of giving his players a ready-made excuse for under-performing, Pochettino was keen to accentuate the positive.

"I've described before, or in the last few days, that it was a little bit unfair (the schedule)," Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday.

"But that is not an excuse (not) to arrive tomorrow in our best condition and fight to try to win. I think you can feel in the eyes of the players the energy."

Tottenham beat Dortmund twice in the Champions League group stage last season but they will face more formidable opponents this time.

Dortmund sit on top of the Bundesliga with a vibrant squad including young England forward Jadon Sancho.

Pochettino is well aware of the threat posed by the Germans as he tries to lead Tottenham into the quarter-finals of a European competition for the first time in his five-year reign.

But, despite the absence of Kane and Alli, they have reeled off four successive wins to stay in the Premier League title race.

And Pochettino expects his side to rise to the occasion in the same never-say-die style they displayed in the group stage this term.

It took late goals against PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan and Barcelona for Tottenham to make the last 16 by the skin of their teeth.

"We were talking in the meeting before and it's completely different (in big games)," Pochettino said.

"If you ask me why, I don't know, because I'm a person whose own motivation is always high, when we play against Dortmund or Barcelona or we play against different (teams) in different competitions.

"But of course you can feel that it's the Champions League, that it's going to be a massive game with, I hope, a full stadium at Wembley and of course the energy and motivation is going to be there."

Meanwhile, Dortmund's flight was briefly delayed en route to London after Sancho forgot his passport.

Sancho has burst into the limelight for Dortmund this season as his decision to quit Manchester City pays off in a big way.

But the 18-year-old will want to forget the first part of his return to England.

The flight was only delayed by 17 minutes, however that didn't stop his team-mate Thomas Delaney having fun at Sancho's expense.

"It might cost us a bit of money, but most of the guys didn't notice," he joked.

Delaney says Sancho is still developing, but he believes the starlet is already good enough to cause problems for any team.

"Jadon is a big, big talent, with talent comes opportunities and he has them for sure," he said.

"But he is still 18 years old and he has done amazing. He is not where he is supposed to be, he is a rough diamond, he will get there.

"I feel responsible for keeping him on the ground. Now we are in England and you are world famous for hyping your players."

 

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Wednesday, 20 February 2019
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Schalke 04 v Manchester City, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tuesday, 05 March 2019
Real Madrid v Ajax, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 22:00
Borussia Dortmund v Tottenham Hotspur, Signal-Iduna-Park 22:00
Wednesday, 06 March 2019
Porto v Roma, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
PSG v Manchester United, Parc des Princes 22:00
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Barcelona v Olympique Lyonnais, Camp Nou 22:00
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