Spurs are back in the Champions League - and Alderweireld’s looking forward to the group stage draw
Toby Alderweireld says Tottenham’s players are looking forward to testing themselves against some of the best clubs in Europe and playing at Wembley Stadium ahead of today’s (Thursday’s) Champions League draw.
Spurs are returning to the continent’s elite club competition after a five-year absence, having reached the quarter-finals in 2010-11 – and they will discover who they will face in the group stage at 5pm this afternoon.
The Lilywhites will play their home games in the tournament at Wembley due to construction works around White Hart Lane, and Alderweireld is excited about the adventure that lies ahead.
“I think after training we’ll watch it together, like every draw – the Europa League before and now the Champions League,” said the Belgian defender.
“Pot One has only the best teams so obviously we’re going to draw at least one good team – and in the Champions League they’re all good teams, so it will be fun, and it will be good to show what we can do and to compare ourselves with the big teams.
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“We’re looking forward to it. We’re very excited to play and I think it will be the next step for the young team we have.
“Just let it be a group where we can go through - that’s important. It will be a very good experience for everybody, to play at Wembley as well, with the fans behind us. We can go through and you have to believe that we can win every game.”
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Tottenham have started their Premier League campaign with four points from a possible six after their opening-day draw at Everton was followed by a 1-0 home win over London rivals Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Mauricio Pochettino’s hosts were missing two influential figures in captain Hugo Lloris and midfielder Mousa Dembele, but reserve goalkeeper Michel Vorm kept a clean sheet and summer signing Victor Wanyama – who has deputised for Dembele after following Alderweireld from Southampton to Spurs - scored the late winning goal on his home debut.
“We know [Michel] quite well and we speak the same language too,” said Alderweireld. “He’s a top goalkeeper and in training he always shows that he will be ready when Hugo is injured or something else. He played well.
“Victor scored a goal as well, so that’s nice - and I think he brings a lot of strength and experience. He knows the Premier League very well so I think he’s a good addition to the team.
“We get good protection [as a defence], and we have more players there as well now. Mousa can’t play at the moment but Victor can. With the Champions League coming, there are a lot of big games coming up so we need everybody.
“Last season we didn’t start as well – I think it was two [points] out of nine, so this is a better start. It’s important to get the first home win as well, so we can be happy.
“I think it was much better than Everton – we started better so that’s a good thing, that we can improve ourselves and try to play better.”
GUIDE TO THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP STAGE DRAW:
Tottenham are in Pot Three out of four, meaning they are in the third tier of the seedings. They will be placed in a group alongside one team from each of the other three sections, but cannot be inserted alongside another English club.
Pot One contains the champions of Europe’s top seven-ranked leagues, plus the holders – Real Madrid – so Spurs will face Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Benfica, PSG or CSKA Moscow.
From Pot Two they could draw last year’s Champions League finalists Atletico Madrid, Europa League holders Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund, who knocked Spurs out of the Europa League last season.
The draw is full of pomp and ceremony which extends the process and can test the patience. Former European greats often appear, and at times they are asked to provide analysis: “Edwin, now that the first ball has been picked out, how do you think the draw is shaping up?”
The camera sometimes flicks to the representatives of each club, who will be studiously making a note of their opponents, seemingly unaware that all the relevant information can be found on something called the World Wide Web.
Follow me on Twitter @BenPearceSpurs