A tough task awaits Tottenham Hotspur when they travel to Spain to take on Champions League holders Real Madrid on Tuesday (19:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
There were a few grimaces among the Spurs delegation when the draw for their Champions League group was made. As the groups lined up, the one everyone wanted to avoid was the one headed by Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. That turned out to be Spurs’ fate.
Tottenham were eliminated from an easier group last season, but the way they have started the current campaign suggests they are going to make a better fist of things this time around. An opening 3-1 victory at home to Dortmund was followed by a 3-0 win away to group minnows APOEL, meaning they travel to Madrid as the joint leaders alongside their hosts.
Harry Kane missed half of the group-stage matches last season through injury and the way he has performed so far this season suggests he is keen to make up for lost time. Two goals in the opening win over Dortmund were followed by a perfect hat-trick (right foot, left foot, header) against APOEL. He has scored 13 times in his last 10 matches for club and country.
Kane wasn’t, however, on the scoresheet in Tottenham’s slightly laboured win over Bournemouth at Wembley on Saturday. He had a couple of chances, but it was Christian Eriksen who provided the game-winning goal with an accurate strike into the corner just after the interval. As a team, Spurs were functional but rarely fluid in a 1-0 victory.
The three points saw Mauricio Pochettino’s side maintain third place in the Premier League after a solid start to the season. Their summer signings have settled in quite well and with a strong defensive setup and potent attack, they again look well-placed to offer a challenge at the top of the table.
Real Madrid will, however, provide a very stern test of their capabilities. In a recent interview, Pochettino described them as “the best team in the world in the last few years,” and a European night at the Bernabeu will certainly challenge what is a young Spurs side.
Madrid had a few problems in overcoming obdurate opposition themselves in a narrow 2-1 win away to Getafe on Saturday. They went ahead through Karim Benzema late in the first half only to be pegged back on the hour and then had to wait until the 85th minute to get their winner through Cristiano Ronaldo. It was their 13th straight away win in league play.
[quote style=”boxed” float=”right”]Pochettino described them as the best team in the world in the last few years[/quote]
There have been some points dropped on home soil so far this season but that has largely been a result of chances not taken rather than chances not created. With the quality they have throughout their squad, even with players like Dani Carvajal and former Spurs man Gareth Bale among those currently out injured, they are a team who even when not at their best can still produce a decisive play to gain victory.
Saturday was Zinedine Zidane’s 100th game in charge of Madrid, and his record reads very well: 75 wins, 17 draws and eight defeats, 273 goals scored and four major trophies, including back-to-back Champions League triumphs.
Madrid were 5-0 aggregate winners when they last met Spurs in European competition back in 2011. They took advantage of Peter Crouch’s sending off to rack up a four-goal lead on home soil that they comfortably saw over the line at White Hart Lane. Neither do Spurs have a good record against Spanish sides in European competition. Their one and only victory came at home to Atletico Madrid in 1963; since, they have drawn three and lost six.
But Spurs travel to Madrid hopeful of getting a result. That is possible if everything goes their way but in the context of the group, they must ensure that if they do lose, it is not by a heavy margin. Since the start of last season, Pochettino’s side have only twice lost by more than a single goal and although Madrid represent tougher opposition than they have faced in that time, they should be capable of at least keeping the match relatively tight if nothing else.
Our Preview’s Real Madrid vs. Tottenham Hotspur Betting Tips Verdict
- Bet on Spurs +1.25 on an Asian Handicap @ 21/20 with Stan James.
- Back two to three goals on the exact totals goals market @ 11/8 with SunBets.
Real Madrid v Spurs Outright Winner Betting Odds from Top Bookies