POCHETTINO: WE CAN STILL QUALIFY
Tottenham Hotspur coach Mauricio Pochettino believes they can still qualify for the next stage of the Champions League. The Premier League side took only one point from their first three games in Group B. They were staring at early elimination but the hard fought victory over PSV Eindhoven has given them a real lifeline. Plus Inter Milan could not upset Barcelona in Italy to make it tough for Spurs.
Gazzaniga also deserves credit after winning the nod ahead of Michel Vorm in the absence of first choice Hugo Lloris. Despite the despair from the fans as continental football slips away, the team was able to dig in to get a lifeline with two games left.
Spurs would have to prove their mettle against Inter and then hope for the best in the final fight against Barcelona. Pochettino says the team is optimistic of their chances and he believes they can still qualify.
“If we can beat Inter then we will both have seven points. Then in one game anything can happen. We will go to Barcelona to try to win the game. The belief is still there. I am so optimistic,” he said.
Barcelona seem to have qualified with ten points after four games. Inter Milan follow with seven points so far. However if they lose to Spurs in the next game, then they would be equal as Spurs have four points now. PSV have little hope of making it through the group.
The disadvantage for Spurs is that while they would be facing Barcelona, who would be keen on not losing, Inter would have a field day against the likely dejected PSV side;So seven points apiece favours the Serie A side more, on paper.
Since the Champions League was introduced in its current format, several Premier League sides have yet gone through to the next stage despite the slim hopes like it is for Spurs. One of the most memorable was when Arsenal lost to Inter Milan 3-0 and Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in the 2003/04 season. They managed to beat Dynamo Kiev 1-0 before humbling Milan in a sweet revenge 5-1 at the San Siro. They went past Lokomotiv in the end to qualify as group leaders.
Liverpool took just one point after three games in 2007/08. Israeli star Yossi Bernayoun was the star in the comeback as his hat trick, along with goals from Peter Crouch and Ryan Babel helped them thrash Besiktas 7-0. They defeated Porto and Marseille to move through to the next stage.
If Inter under-rate PSV, and Spurs can get the result at Barcelona, then they just might get the nod.