Jim Denvir emails to point out that two wins could be enough for Tottenham. Their 2-1 defeat in the San Siro means a 1-0 win or a win by two goals would, of course, put them in the driving seat tonight. Then they’d just have to beat Barcelona away. Damn permutations.
Tottenham, with an eye on Sunday’s north London derby, make four changes after last Saturday’s win over Chelsea. Juan Foyth’s ineligbility means the returning Jan Vertonghen slots into central defence, Harry Winks replaces Eric Dier, Erik Lamela is in for Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura gets the nod over Christian Eriksen.
Inter make three changes after thumping Frosinone C on the weekend. Out go Roberto Gagliardini, Lautaro Martinez and Keita Balde, in come Matias Vecino, Ivan Perisic and Mauro Icardi, the danger man up front.
Tottenham: Lloris; Aurier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Davies; Winks, Sissoko; Lamela, Alli, Lucas; Kane. Subs: Gazzaniga, Rose, Walker-Peters, Dier, Eriksen, Son, Llorente.
Internazionale: Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, De Vrij, Skriniar, Asamoah; Vecino, Brozovic; Politano, Nainggolan, Perisic; Icardi. Subs: Padelli, Ranocchia, Miranda, Candreva, Keita Balde, Martinez, Borja Valero.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).
Hello. It’s difficult not to admire this Tottenham side. In fact, even though journalists are supposed to have no bias (LOL!), it’s difficult not to like them. They don’t spend loads of money, they have one of the best managers in Europe, they have some of the best young players in Europe and they’re capable of playing outstanding football, all of which means they probably won’t be criticised too viciously if they end up crashing out of their Champions League group for the second time in three seasons. Looking at the wider picture, it’s clear they’re still a team heading in the right direction under Mauricio Pochettino – assuming, of course, the Argentine hangs around long enough to sample everything on offer in the cheese hall at the new White Hart Lane.
Ah, there’s the rub. It’s the fine details that count at this level and that’s something Tottenham have failed to address in the past few months. The harsh truth, sadly, is they’ll only have themselves to blame if they end up playing Europa League football in the new year. Small mistakes catch up with you eventually and Tottenham, a team who still leave you wanting more at times, have been making too many on and off the pitch. Once again they find themselves playing a big game at Wembley instead of their new home and if they don’t beat Internazionale this evening that will be it as far as their Champions League campaign is concerned. The heat is on!
Whether it should be, mind you, is another thing. This was a hard group, no doubt about it, but Tottenham have had chances to put themselves in a much stronger position. The carelessness began when they allowed Inter to stage a late fightback in their opening game at the San Siro and it reached a peak when they managed to draw 2-2 with PSV Eindhoven, the group whipping boys. That means they have win to win 1-0 or by two goals here to take control of their head-to-head with Inter and then stun Barcelona in the Nou Camp in a fortnight. Anything less than that scoreline here and they’ll either be out or hoping Inter don’t beat PSV at home in their final game. Hmm. I don’t like those odds, especially as Inter, third in Serie A, are tough opponents. Yet Pochettino is nothing if not relentlessly positive and Tottenham come into this one fresh from thrashing Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday. Now more than ever, they have to keep the faith.
Kick-off: 8pm GMT.