Tottenham and Harry Kane faced Juventus and Gianluigi Buffon and Giorgio Chiellini in a pre-season friendly last August at Wembley Stadium
Tottenham travel to Juventus tonight for their first meeting in European competition against the Italian champions.
Their Champions League last-16 clash will be a fascinating encounter, pitting two of Europe’s most in-form teams against one another. Both clubs are unbeaten in all competitions this year with Tottenham’s 1-0 win over Arsenal at the weekend their 12th match without defeat.
Juventus are on an 11-match winning streak and crucially their latest victory, a 2-0 win away to Fiorentina, was on Friday, allowing them 24 hours more rest than tonight’s opponents.
Tottenham, on the other hand, must work themselves up to an emotional peak once more, just three days after winning the north London derby at Wembley.
They beat the Gunners with a domineering performance, as they did Manchester United last month, but in the group stage of the Champions League, Tottenham played in a more counter-attacking style, soaking up the pressure against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid before hitting them on the break.
Asked after the Arsenal win if he would revert to that counter-attacking tactic against Juventus, Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino replied in the negative: “My idea is to keep playing the same way, to try and be a little bit braver if we can, while being clever because their level is one of the best in Europe.
“We are comfortable in the way we are playing and the shape we use [4-2-3-1]. I think the players know we don’t have to change too much and in the last three Premier League games they have started to feel good. It is important sometimes not to change too much.”
Key to Tottenham’s performance tonight will be confidence. They have only been beyond the last 16 of the Champions League on one previous occasion, when they lost to Real Madrid in the 2011 quarter-final, whereas Juventus are regulars in the business end of the tournament, appearing in two of the last three finals.
“Of course, Juventus is a great team, one of the best in Europe and they have a lot of experienced players who know what it is to compete in the Champions League,” said Pochettino.
“For us, we don’t have that. But our belief, our confidence, our form are good, and we will be ready to very competitive… we are going to be aggressive, we are going to be brave and we are going to try to win.”
Juventus want to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham and are willing to pay %u20AC250 million, according to reports in Spainhttps://t.co/oAvCfy8GnS
— Goal (@goal) February 12, 2018
It will be a big ask to sneak a win this evening, against a Juventus side that has only conceded one goal in their last 16 games but Pochettino stressed that recent results have imbued his boys with self-belief.
“When you beat Arsenal and United, it means you have the quality to beat big teams in Europe too,” he said.
Harry Kane, who scored the winner against the Gunners, will be looking to add to his tally of 32 goals for the season while Pochettino might be looking to ward off any Juventus interest in his star striker.
According to reports, the Italians have their eye on the England frontman “and are willing to pay €250 million”.
Spanish outlet Don Balon says that Juve are desperate for Kane to partner Paulo Dybala and are willing to table a world-record fee in a bid to break Tottenham’s resolve to keep hold of their scoring sensation.
Trying to stop Kane scoring tonight will be Juventus’s veteran centre-back Giorgio Chiellini, who said of the Tottenham striker: “Kane is now among the elite players in the world. Over the last years, with the goals he has scored, he has been on the level of the best. Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar – Kane has been on that level. He is one of those players that is irreplaceable.”
Champions League round of 16 first-leg fixtures
Tonight (7.45pm unless stated)
- FC Basel vs. Manchester City (live on BT Sport 3)
- Juventus vs. Tottenham Hotspur (live on BT Sport 2)
Tomorrow (7.45pm unless stated)
- FC Porto vs. Liverpool (live on BT Sport 2)
- Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint Germain (live on BT Sport 3)