Poch has already laid down the gauntlet… Europa League? Doesn’t matter… Carabao Cup? Likewise…FA Cup? Chicken-feed…
Only two trophies matter to our manager and, by extension, to his players and the fans. So let’s stop bemoaning the actual draw and start thinking to how Spurs might actually qualify for the knockout stage and how the additions of Davinson Sanchez, Serge Aurier and, now, particularly Ross Barkley could help them do it.
Those two first two fixtures—home to Borussia Dortmund and away to APOEL Nicosia—areas close to “must wins” as a Spurs side have faced in recent years in Europe. Win them both, and we’re playing with house money before the home-and-home legs vs the holders. Draw one, and points vs Madrid become vital. Lose one and… well, I’m sick of Thursdays so let’s not go there.
We won’t have Dele for either game, nor for the game at the Bernabeu. (Sorry, chap. That’s what the red mist can cost you. You’ll have to wait for a Le Liga fixture to get on that pitch somewhere down the road) Thus both the attacking group and those in defence become vital. We could win with Son, Eriksen and Kane up front, but having Barkley (and Lamela off the bench) makes Poch’s options much more presentable. Likewise in the back, where we presume Danny may still be iffy for the opener v Dortmund but Aurier’s presence might be a huge lift and Sanchez can slot in for Dier or one of the two Belgians if need be.
I would hope Poch takes a page out of Conte and Mourinho’s book and begins to devote serious practice time and study to Dortmund. Between then and now, we have a home fixture v Burnley and an away game at Goodison, and that’s it. Our Carabao Cup game is likely to be delayed until October since we drew the Barnsley-Derby ball that in turn has been delayed by the pitch problems in the opening round. So look at everything Dortmund for the next three weeks. Pulisic is awful good—and not just for a Yank—but I would think Dembele and Wanyama can throttle him. We got a healthy dose of Aubameyang two years ago—I would think Poch can devise a plan to limit him this go around. And the tape of those games should be studied, and then studied again. Personnel is somewhat different, and two years removed from Klopp, the philosophy may have changed a bit—but there should be enough carry-over to plan for.
This is a real hurdle for this club. As much as the league or the new stadium. Make it to knockout stage and maybe we’ll be in Pot 2 next year. Make it to knockout stage and perhaps join all 4 other English sides in a Premiership renaissance. Make it to knockout stage and take down a giant. Make it to knockout stage and make Dele and Harry and Toby and Christian realize that they can realize their dreams here in London. Make it to knockout stage and just salivate over what next year in the new digs might bring. Now Daniel—sign Aurier and Barkely, por favor. Vamos! Schnell!
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