After coming away with a point from an entertaining encounter at the Bernabeu two weeks ago, Tottenham Hotspur will be seeking another positive result when they host Real Madrid at Wembley on Wednesday (19:45 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Spurs disappointed in last season’s Champions League but have been much better this time around and look very strongly placed to progress from Group H. Barring a heavy defeat away to Dortmund, just three more points from three matches will see them through.
Tottenham’s performance in Madrid showed that they are now capable of giving a good account of themselves against one of the best teams in Europe. Hugo Lloris performed superbly between the sticks and Madrid did probably create enough chances to take victory, but Spurs had a couple of good opportunities of their own and deserve credit for keeping the match close enough for fortune to favour them. It was a determined and disciplined display.
Mauricio Pochettino deservedly received plaudits for the way in which he approached the match and he afterwards spoke proudly of his team’s performance. A European away night at the Bernabeu is a big test for any player, and he will have be particularly impressed with the way in which younger squad members like Harry Winks and Davinson Sanchez dealt with it.
Pochettino’s starting XI in Madrid featured a few surprises and provided further evidence of his growing tactical flexibility. The decision to start with two strikers, in Harry Kane and Fernando Llorente, was a bold one, while the defensive work and pace and power on the break provided by the previously-maligned Moussa Sissoko was also key to the draw.
It will be interesting to see what plans Pochettino has for the return match at Wembley, particularly given that Harry Kane may not be fit in time to start. Kane has already scored 13 goals in all competitions so far this season but he missed the narrow 0-1 defeat away to Manchester United on Saturday with a hamstring injury and Pochettino admitted afterwards that he is unsure whether he will be ready on Wednesday.
Dele Alli does, however, return from his three-match European ban. If Kane doesn’t make it, then at least two of Llorente, Alli and Heung Min-Son can be expected to start. Pochettino is likely to stick with a back three but it remains to be seen how the rest of the team will be configured and whether they will be as bold in committing men forward as they were in Madrid.
Their visitors are likely to take an attacking approach. Zinedine Zidane felt that a draw was a fair result in the first encounter but is keen for his side to make up for the two points they dropped there by taking all three at Wembley. With things finely balanced, the result on Wednesday is likely to go a long way towards decide who progresses as the group winner.
The match at the Bernabeu highlighted a recurring problem for Madrid so far this season. While they are creating a lot of chances, they are not finishing them at a high-enough rate. When opponents are then able to create a good opportunity or two for themselves on the counter, points can be dropped. With 10 matches played in La Liga, Madrid are already eight points behind leaders Barcelona and they fell to a surprise 1-2 defeat at Girona on Sunday.
It would, though, be foolish to write them off. They have already recorded a strong 3-1 win away to Dortmund during this year’s Champions League and have only failed to score once in their last 80 competitive matches. With the quality they possess throughout the squad, it is surely only a matter of time before they start to string a run of victories together. This is, after all, the team who have won the Champions League in each of the last two seasons.
Buoyed by their performance two weeks ago, Spurs will perhaps view Wednesday’s match as an opportunity to record a famous win over a European powerhouse. But in the likely absence of Kane and against a Madrid side whose finishing rate will surely revert to a more realistic level sooner rather than later, another draw might be the outcome.
Our preview’s Tottenham vs Real Madrid Betting Tips Verdict
- Back Tottenham Hotspur +0.25 on an Asian Handicap @ best odds of 107/100 with Bet365.
- Bet on Cristiano Ronaldo to score at anytime @ best odds of 19/20 with Unibet.
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