Mauricio Pochettino wants Spurs to ‘enjoy’ Champions League last-16 clash with Juventus at Wembley
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The 46-year-old discussed Tottenham Hotspur’s big game this week, reflected on their Wembley form and explained why Heung-min Son came off against Huddersfield
Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino has called on everyone associated with the club to enjoy Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg tie with Juventus.
The Old Lady travel to London in high spirits after a late 1-0 win at Lazio in Serie A on Saturday helped them return to the top of the table.
However, after a 2-2 draw in the first leg, Tottenham Hotspur appear to hold an advantage, with two away goals, and they are favourites to progress, but that brings added pressure.
Yet Pochettino said: “It’s a game of football and our approach will be the same as it was for the first leg in Turin.
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“We need to feel free and happy and enjoy the game and like every game we are going to work and decide on a strategy, but in the end it is a football game and you have to enjoy it. It is so important.
“Of course the Champions League is an amazing competition and I think we have fought a lot over the last few years to try and play this type of game.”
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It is a big night and not just the club, but also Pochettino as he looks to guide Spurs into the quarter-finals of the competition for just the third time in their history.
Tottenham made it to the semi-finals of the tournament then-named the European Cup in 1962 before exiting 4-3 on aggregate to eventual champions Benfica.
More recently, Harry Redknapp guided Spurs to the last-eight of the Champions League in 2011 and did it by defeating an Italian club in the shape of AC Milan in the last-16.
White Hart Lane was rocking during both of those European campaigns, but this team will be playing at Wembley.
At the start of the season there was a lot of talk about a hoodoo regarding the national stadium and Spurs, but the Lilywhites have since shown that was nonsense.
In actual fact, Tottenham are now unbeaten at home in all competitions since October 25 when West Ham United defeated them 3-2 in the League Cup.
The north Londoners have won 13 of their 15 games since, drawing the other two and in the process have turned their temporary abode in Brent into a real fortress.
Pochettino said: “I am so pleased. It’s a fantastic run and we can say that Wembley is our home and it is so important for the team.
“From last season when we played here in the Champions League and Europa League it was maybe a strange feeling and difficult feeling, but now for our fans and for us it is like our home.
“The team feel okay and good when they play here and when the result is positive everything is much better.”
Most observers can problem pick Tottenham’s starting XI for Wednesday, although it seems there is one spot up for grabs.
Erik Lamela started the first leg in Turin and given he was on the bench on Saturday, many expected he would get the nod again this week.
Heung-min Son’s two goals and overall impressive showing against Huddersfield Town may have altered Pochettino’s thinking though.
The South Korean came off with 20 minutes to go at the weekend and the Spurs boss explained why afterwards, although it could indict he will now start on Wednesday.
“If you see the last few games, Son has played a lot,” said Pochettino. “He played an hour and scored twice against Rochdale and it was a very cold day.
“Against Huddersfield it was another 65-70 minute and he is not a machine. He needs to rest because we have a lot of games.”