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Spurs Odyssey Preview - Spurs v Barcelona, 03.10.18

· See the current injury list for all Premier League Teams
· All the Spurs Stats you could hope for here! THFC6061 Sports Stats

Spurs' record in Europe:-
The official crest of Tottenham Hotspur
U.E.F.A Champions League
 P  W   D   L   F - A
27 12   6   9  50 - 35
European Cup
P   W   D   L   F - A
8   4   1   3  21 - 13
(Semi-Finalists 1962)
European Cup Winners Cup
P   W   D   L   F - A
33  20  5   8  65 - 34
(Winners 1963)
UEFA Cup/Europa League
 P    W   D   L   F - A
140  78  36  26  276-121 
(Winners 1972, 1984
 Finalists 1974)
The club logo of Barcelona
P    W   D   L   F - A
208 114 48  46  412-203

Group B Table
 		P  W  D  L  F-A  GD   PTS
1. Barcelona    1  1  0  0  4-0   4    3
2. Inter        1  1  0  0  2-1   1    3
3. Spurs        1  0  0  1  1-2  -1    0  
4. PSV          1  0  0  1  0-4  -4    0

We can beat the best in Spain!

I think that with this fixture and the return game to Barcelona in December I can say I will have completed my "bucket list" of opponents I want to see play Spurs. Yes, I was around in 1982 when we lost narrowly to the world famous Catalan side in the European Cup Winners Cup, but I had no chance of physically attending either game. I have also seen us play Barcelona in pre-season friendly matches, but their team on those occasions did not represent anything like a full strength side. Wembley has been declared a "sell-out" for tomorrow's game!

Mauricio Pochettino has declared regarding Lionel Messi:-

“I am not going to try to find a solution,” he said. “I am going to say to the players, ‘Enjoy playing against Messi’. Because you are going to have the opportunity to play against one of the best players in the history of football.

“And more than worrying you, that needs to excite you to play and so you can say ‘Oh, I played against Messi’. It’s a thing that you are going to tell your kids and grandkids.

“Sometimes, my kids say to me, ‘Ah, you played with Maradona’. And they are so proud. So enjoy.

‘You are going to have the opportunity to play against one of the best players in the history of football’ “It’s difficult to find solutions to stop him. I think it’s impossible. It’s only to enjoy it, to be close, to help the players who are going to face him and, in the end, when you have the ball, to try to have possession, to play in the opposite half, to try to push Leo to play far from your goal. Because if not, it’s terrible.”

So that's the game plan to deal with not just Messi, of course, but the rest of the Barcelona team. In the same vein, Spurs fans can go with the attitude to "See Messi and enjoy", but by the same token, we beat the Champions of Europe (Real Madrid) deservedly and convincingly last November, so why should we not succeed tomorrow? After all, Barcelona, despite still topping La Liga after 7 games, have not won in their last three games.

The Barcelona side is now managed by Ernesto Valverde, previously of Athletic Bilbao - famously a Basque orientated side - so he knows what it is like to manage a side with its independent identity. "Barca" is naturally proud of its Catalan origins. He also won a league and cup "Double" in his first season last year. I'll just remind you here that Barca have been Spanish Champions 25 times, and European Champions 5 times. The last occasion they won this event was in 2015.

Those last three domestic games have been a 2-2 draw at home to Girona (who gave our depleted squad such a beating this pre-season); an away defeat (2-1) to bottom club Leganes - for whom it was the only victory so far this season - and last Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to their manager's last team Athletic Bilbao.

Until that recent run, Barca had won four consecutive league games and comfortably beat PSV in their first Group B game of the Champions League. Messi is a phenomenon, of course, and has scored an incredible 388 La Liga goals for his one club - Barcelona. Pochettino has also described how, as a youngster Lionel might have become a playing colleague at Espanyol, but that was not to be. Messi scored his 8th champions League hat-trick in that game against PSV, and he has scored over 40 hat-tricks in all competitions.

Of course, Spurs will be familiar with, and will have to worry about other Barcelona players such as Pique, Coutinho and the notorious Luis Suarez, each of whom have played in this ccountry. Former Arsenal man Thomas Vermaelen is a Barcelona man now, but has only played in that defeat to Leganes. Then there are goalkeeper Ter Stegen, Busquets, Umtiti, Jordi Alba, Rakitic, Ousmane Dembele and Sergu Roberto to consider!

A bigger worry for Spurs is the number of players who sat out of this morning's open training session (for the press). They were Eriksen, Vertonghen, Dembele, Dele Alli and Serge Aurier, and none of them will be available before the International break. The good news was that Hugo Lloris was out there and is available for selection. Michel Vorm returns to training later this week. We can still field an excellent back three with powerful wing-backs, good defensive midfielders and a competitive front three, so why worry! I'd be foolhardy to predict a Spurs win, but what a result that would be. Even a draw would surely give us a boost and a chance to qualify from this group come December.

Did you know? - That one competitive meeting with Barcelona came in 1982 when we were involved in the chase for four potential trophies. We played 66 games that season, 28 of which came between March and May. We had lost to Liverpool in the February League Cup Final, then lost 2-1 on aggregate in the Cup Winners' Cup semi-final in March. Graham Roberts had scored a precious home goal for us in a 1-1 draw, but Allan Simonsen scored the solitary goal in the Camp Nou Stadium. Our only trophy was to be the FA Cup Final after a replay against QPR.

There have been a number of players who have played for both clubs. One of the names will surprise you, and I will write more about that when previewing our December game.

Tomorrow's on-field match officials are from Germany, led by Felix Zwayer. The only time Herr Zwayer has been in charge of a Spurs game was for a Europa League game away to Fiorentina in February 2016 when we drew 1-1.

· "It was Twenty Years ago today!" - On 3rd October 1998, we beat Derby County 1-0 at Pride Park. George Graham was our manager in waiting and our goal was scored by another individual who would have Arsenal connections when leaving Spurs.

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