Spurs are 90 minutes from completing a comeback no-one saw coming just a few games ago. Deep into Matchday 4 against PSV, they were a goal behind, had just one point and were headed for complete European elimination with a couple of games to spare. Two late Harry Kane goals turned that match around, leaving them needing to beat Inter and probably Barcelona to progress to the last 16 of the Champions League.
Well, they beat Inter; now they face a Barcelona side that had taken care of business and won the group by the time the last round of fixtures kicked off. That’s not to say that the Catalan side will be taking it easy here, but it’s clear Spurs have more motivation to be up for this game than their hosts; a win here is certainly not beyond the reach of Pochettino’s side.
Barcelona vs Tottenham Prediction: Barcelona 1-2 Tottenham
Going to the Nou Camp and winning is among the hardest tasks in football, statistically speaking. However, it’s worth remembering that within the last month Real Betis have done exactly that. Are Spurs a better side than Real Betis? You’d have to think so – and when you add that to the North London side having a much greater need for the points tonight, it’s far from out of the question that they could do what seemed out of the question less than two matches ago. Given the attacking riches Spurs can call upon, we’re predicting an away win.
Our recommended tip: Spurs and BTTS
If you run through this game in your mind, it’s possible to see any number of ways that Spurs could come out of it as winners. The one fly in that ointment is that even if Barcelona field a weakened side, you would expect them to have a team on the field that’s capable of scoring against anyone. In that light, although we back Spurs to win this game, we also think that there will be goals on both sides. The idea of Barca staying quiet in attack for ninety minutes, at home, is hard to credit. Betfred have 4/1 (5.00) on Spurs winning and BTTS; those seem like worthwhile odds.
It seems almost hard to believe, but before this season these sides had never met in a competitive game. Some people would argue that they still haven’t, given the beating that Barcelona handed out on the night. While they may not have been at their best for much of this season, Ernesto Valverde’s men were impeccable; excellent performances from Jordi Alba, Coutinho, and most of all Leo Messi saw the visitors win by a 4-2 scoreline. It could have been a lot worse for Spurs, but there’s no shame in getting dismantled by a team that plays like the Blaugrana played that night.
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Players to watch: Leo Messi & Eric Dier
Although Valverde has stated his intention to rest some players for a game that is essentially a dead rubber for Barca, Messi will start. As such, he automatically becomes Barcelona’s player to watch. With six goals so far in the competition, and coming off a two-goal performance in the weekend’s trouncing of Espanyol, the Argentinian magician will have to be closely watched by the visiting defence. Everyone knows what he can do – but that doesn’t make it any easier to stop him doing it..
If Spurs are to win this game, they are going to need to use the ball intelligently. Dier, who trained at the Sporting Lisbon academy, has an instinct for controlled midfield play that is rare among English players. If Barcelona come into this game in the mood to attack, it may be his calm approach that allows Spurs to survive the early waves and play themselves into the game. He can also strike a fair free kick, so there’s that too.