Wednesday 18 September 2019

Pochettino: City showdown is the biggest game of my managerial life

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Adam Davy/PA
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

Matt Law

Mauricio Pochettino has described Tottenham Hotspur's Champions League tie against Manchester City tonight as the biggest match of his managerial life.

It will be the first time Pochettino has managed a club in the Champions League quarter-finals and it is the first time since 2011 that Spurs have been in the last eight.

Asked if that made the first leg the biggest match of his life, Pochettino replied: "Yes, as a coach. This will be one of the most important games.

"I think it's a massive bonus to play in the quarter-finals with all the circumstances, but we are going to try to beat them.

"The objective is to be in the semi-final. That will be tough, because Manchester City are a very good team and, of course, we respect them."

City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has dismissed the potential impact of Tottenham's new stadium, which they moved in to last week, claiming that "everybody has a stadium, everybody has supporters".

But Son Heung-min, who scored the first goal at the venue against Crystal Palace last week, said: "Maybe the City players don't realise because they always play at home, but we've been nearly two years away from our home stadium.

"What we have done in that time was very positive, but we can show them the difference between Wembley and our new stadium."

Pochettino's rivalry with Pep Guardiola, the City manager, dates back to their time in Spain, when Guardiola played for and coached Barcelona while Pochettino played and managed at Espanyol.

There was perhaps a Freudian slip from Pochettino, when he said: "It's going to be tough, the games against him, against them, sorry."

On their personal history, Pochettino added: "During four years that we met in Spain, we played a lot of games and it was always tough to play against Barcelona. We tried to make all the games difficult.

"They know, and he knows, that we (Tottenham) are brave playing football, we like to go forwards, be aggressive, to be protagonists.

"But the most important thing is that we are aggressive and tonight we're going to play and try to be protagonists and try to beat them.

"When 10 years ago we met for the first time, the first game we played was in Montjuic, it was 0-0, in the Copa del Rey.

"We started to see how we wanted to play and, of course, respected the opponent and knew that they have a lot of talent.

"But being brave and trying to win the game is our challenge and tonight is going to be the same."

Tottenham v Manchester City,

Live, VM 1/BT Sport 2, 8.0

The Left Wing: Ireland's fullback dilemma, World Cup bonding and the squad standby list

Also in Sport