Tottenham face Juventus on Tuesday night in the first leg of the Champions League last 16.
Here, FP looks at five talking points ahead of a mouth-watering fixture.
Pochettino to stick or twist?
Tottenham have enjoyed great success in Europe this season with a more cautious approach to away fixtures and Pochettino must decide whether to be guided by his more attacking, high-pressing instincts or once again adopt a more pragmatic approach. The latter strategy yielded four points away to Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund in the group stage and a draw at the Allianz Stadium, preferably with an away goal, could prove a tie-winning result.
What is up with Alderweireld?
Alderweireld’s fitness is becoming something of an issue, with the Belgian left out of the travelling party to Turin, after being similarly snubbed for Saturday’s north London derby win over Arsenal. Alderweireld missed 14 weeks with a hamstring injury and Spurs have high standards when it comes to assessing whether a player is ready for competitive action. But Alderweireld, whose future remains uncertain as contract talks ramble on, spoke positively after playing 90 minutes against Newport in the FA Cup last week and missing arguably Tottenham’s biggest match this season is not a good sign.
What price on experience?
Victories over Real and Dortmund have cast Tottenham as something of a dark horse in this season’s Champions League but it is easy to forget the club is a relative minnow in the competition’s recent history. For Spurs, this is only the second time they have made the Champions League knock-out stages and a first even for the likes of Kane, Dele Alli, Eric Dier – and even Pochettino. Juventus, meanwhile, are old-timers in the latter stages of this tournament, having made the final twice in the last three attempts alone. That experience under pressure, and in the key moments, could prove decisive.
Can Dembele do it again?
It is no coincidence that Tottenham taking seven points from consecutive league games against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal has coincided with a return to form for Mousa Dembele, who has endured a stop-start season due to injuries but was imperious in all three of those fixtures. The question now is whether Dembele, who is regularly wrestling with niggling physical problems, can follow his dominant display over Arsenal with a similar performance in Italy only four days later.
Is Kane about to meet his match?
By far the most compelling duel of this contest will take place between Harry Kane, the most feared striker in Europe right now, and Giorgio Chiellini, the most tenacious centre-half. Chiellini hit Kane with a thundering tackle just two minutes into the striker’s full England debut three years ago and this will be their first meeting since. Juventus have conceded only one goal in their last 16 games and, even if Kane gets past Chiellini, he has Gianluigi Buffon to beat. This may be Kane’s stiffest examination yet.
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