Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino insists that the stalemate against Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League proves that Spurs can compete with the biggest clubs in the world.
Pochettino’s side beat the odds by drawing 1-1 against Real at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in a group stage clash last week. Speaking ahead of Tottenham’s Premier League tie against Liverpool on Sunday, Pochettino claimed that competing with the top sides is what the club has been working on for the past three years.
“A 1-1 draw? It proved we can compete with the top clubs,” he said. “Which was the plan when we started three years ago.”
Spurs had to field a makeshift starting XI against Real after missing four key players, including star midfielder Dele Alli, through injury or suspension. Jan Verthongen had to be moved to left-back while a three man midfield complimented an ambitious striking duo of Fernando Llorente and Hary Kane up front.
Pochettino praised his side’s tactical flexibility to adapt to difficult situations. The Argentinean had advised his team to sit a bit deeper, abandoning Spurs’ trademark high pressing game. Although deemed a bit ‘risky’ before the game, Pochettino insists that his squad has matured enough to adapt to any situation.
“I think maybe last season people said what is Tottenham’s Plan B,” the former Southampton coach said.
”It’s only risky if you haven’t worked in training to make the players more flexible and have the confidence to play in different shapes and systems. If they can’t accept that you are dead. It’s a risk to play players who can’t cope with the job you expect from them.
“The most important thing is that we have a plan. But now I think we have created different ways to play while still keeping the philosophy of the team… I‘m so proud that our players accept and believe we can play differently from one game to another.”
Spurs are third on the Premier League table and face the daunting task of playing Liverpool in a must in game at the Wembley Stadium on Sunday.