Big Match Breakdown: Tottenham v Barcelona
Richard Marsh | 3 October 2018
Odds and tips for Champions League showdown
After a 2-1 loss to Inter Milan in their opening group game, the pressure is on Tottenham Hotspur to get something when they welcome Lionel Messi and Barcelona to Wembley tonight.
But Spurs are facing a minor injury crisis, and boss Mauricio Pochettino is without a number of first team starters this evening. Poch also has a pretty dire record against Barca, winning only one of his nine meetings against them as a manager.
It should still be a thriller under the arch – and it’s all live from 8:00pm on BT Sport 2. Before that, however, the Coral News Team are on hand with the Big Match Breakdown…
This will be the first meeting between the two teams since 1982, and only the third in total. That clash 36 years ago came in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners’ Cup.
Spurs held the Spanish side to a 1-1 draw at White Hart Lane, before losing 1-0 at the Camp Nou.
Ahead of this one, Tottenham have bounced back from their Inter defeat, beating Brighton & Hove Albion and Huddersfield Town in the League, plus a penalties Carabao Cup win over Watford.
As for the Catalan giants, they’re a little out of sorts. After hammering PSV 4-0 in their group opener, Barca have gone on a three-game winless run. They’ve only won five of their last 12 competitive away games, too.
Pochettino has plenty of reshuffling to do tonight. He’s without Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Moussa Dembele in midfield, plus Jan Vertonghen and Serge Aurier at the back.
Hugo Lloris is back, however, while Harry Winks and Victor Wanyama may well start in the middle.
Eric Dier could slot in at the back or in midfield, while Son Heung-Min and Lucas Moura have a big night ahead of them in support of Harry Kane. Erik Lamela could feature too.
As for Barca, Messi will be back after starting on the bench against Athletic Bilbao at the weekend. Ernesto Valverde is likely to begin with a Messi-Suarez-Dembele top three.
Sergio Busquets will hold the midfield together, while Philippe Coutinho and Ivan Rakitic look to pick out the forwards. Samuel Umtiti is expected to be Barca’s only absentee tonight.
This is a huge night for Spurs. Lose and they’ll be facing a huge uphill struggle. But without Eriksen and Alli, they’re without two men who can change the tide.
So they must find a way to stop Coutinho, Busquets and Rakitic dictating the play. Winks and Wanyama will have to put in a shift and they may have to be patient tonight.
Up front, Son and Moura have the skill and pace to hustle Gerard Pique’s defence on the counter, but Spurs’ own back-line must keep tabs on Messi, Suarez and Dembele. Each of them can win a game in an instant.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing