The Champions League returns to action this mid-week, with Tottenham Hotspur preparing for a tricky contest away to France, against Monaco.
A group consisting of Monaco, CSKA Moscow and Bayer Leverkusen was never meant to be an easy ride. But Pochettino’s men haven’t yet shown what they are really capable of in the Champions League, with the team currently languishing at the third spot in the group, four points behind leaders Monaco.
As such, a lot will be at stake when Spurs travel to France on Tuesday, with the Premier League side struggling in the race for qualification to the next round.
Team news and tactics
Three points off the top in Ligue 1, top of the group in Champions League, highest goal-scorers in Europe’s top five leagues – Monaco are certainly flying high this season.
For now, the focus of Leonardo Jardim’s men shifts to the Champions League, where they are well-placed to qualify for the next round. A win on Tuesday would more or less ensure their spot in the Round of 16.
Monaco are undefeated at home this season, winning eight of the ten matches that took place at Stade Louis II in all competitions.
Danijel Subasic has been ever-present as the goalkeeper, and it should remain the same against the English opponents. Andrea Raggi and Djibril Sidibe are expected to feature as the full-backs, with Kamil Glik and Jemerson as the centre-half pairing.
Tiemoué Bakayoko and Fabinho will start in the middle of the park, with the latter being mighty impressive off late in his new role. Bernardo Silva and Thomas Lemar should start out wide.
Valère Germain and Radamel Falcao have formed a fine forward partnership. Both are expected to start upfront as the two strikers against Spurs.
The North London club go into the match on the back of a disappointing run of form, having won only once in their last eight matches in all competitions. However, the Lilywhites did stage a spirited comeback at the weekend against cross-town rivals West Ham, with Harry Kane scoring in the 89th and 91st minute to help the win team 3-2.
Spurs’ undisputed number one Hugo Lloris will continue to start between the sticks on Tuesday. The Frenchman will have a four-man defense in front of him. Kieran Trippier could replace Kyle Walker, who started on Saturday, in the lineup as the right-back while Danny Rose continues as the left-back as Ben Davies is sidelined with a knee injury. In Toby Alderweireld’s injury absence, Eric Dier will partner Jan Vertonghen at the heart of the defense.
Summer signing Victor Wanyama will be tasked with the role of breaking down the Monaco attacks, with Dele Alli and Mousa Dembele just ahead of him, to bring more solidity and directness in midfield. Son Heung-Min was rested against West Ham, and will start on the left on Tuesday with Christian Eriksen on the opposite flank. Erik Lamela has been ruled out of the tie with an injury.
Spurs dearly missed the services of talismanic striker Harry Kane, but the Englishman is back and firing again, having scored 3 goals in his two appearances since his return from an ankle injury. The 23-year-old will lead the line against the French opposition.
Probable lineup (4-3-3): Lloris; Trippier, Dier, Vertonghen, Rose; Wanyama; Eriksen, Alli, Dembele, Son; Kane.
- Tottenham have failed to score in 5 of their last 7 matches in the Champions League.
- Monaco are undefeated in their last 7 matches in the Champions League
- Monaco have lost only two of their last 19 Champions League games at home (W13 D4). Their last home defeat in the group stages dates back to September 2000 against Glasgow Rangers (0-1).
- Monaco have only kept one clean sheet in their last 10 games against English clubs, in all competitions. Meanwhile, Tottenham have never won an away game against French opposition, in all competitions (D3 L1).
Prediction: Monaco 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Tottenham managed to return unscathed (1 win, 1 draw) from their European trips to Russia and Germany, but Monaco will offer a completely different challenge. The Ligue 1 outfit have earned a reputation as set-piece experts, and as such Pochettino’s men will have to be at their very best to not concede when defending from dead-ball situations.
Harry Kane’s return is indeed a big boost for the Premier League side, but Monaco haven’t been goal-shy at all this season. The match promises to be a very close contest, containing plenty of goals in it.