Tottenham Need to Rest Players to Beat Barca – Coach
Mauricio Pochettino says Tottenham fully believe they can beat Barcelona and progress in the Champions League, but has warned he must continue to rest key players to ensure they arrive at the Nou Camp with a fighting chance.
Pochettino omitted Christian Eriksen and Son Heung-Min, who both starred in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over Chelsea, from his line-up for Wednesday’s must-win European showdown against Inter Milan, before introducing them in the second half.
Eriksen’s arrival proved particularly important as the Dane’s late strike secured a 1-0 victory which took Spurs above Inter in Group B and ensured that an away win against Barca in a fortnight’s time would give the north Londoners a place in the knockout stages.
“We have big respect for Barcelona, one of the best teams in Europe,” said Pochettino. “Of course, they have unbelievable players and it’ll be so tough — but one thing we have is our belief and faith we can win. We only need to show again a good level to compete at our best.
“To arrive at Barcelona and compete in our best we need to have fresh legs, fresh minds, no injuries. To arrive in that way in Barcelona we need to manage and we need to rotate the squad. If not, the demands of the Premier League are so tough.
“We’re playing in the Champions League and the [Carabao] Cup against Arsenal at the Emirates. Playing games every three days is so tough — so tough for us, and for our players it’s so, so difficult. They’re not going to have one day off until January.”
Barcelona could rest some of their most influential players against Tottenham next month, given they have already topped the group, but Pochettino said: “I don’t know [what they’ll do]. I expect they’ll play with the best players but today I don’t know how they’ll prepare the game.
“What Barcelona do is not in our hands. But of course in the Champions League, no-one is going to give you a present and not care about the result.
“It’s going to be very competitive but of course they’re qualified in first with 13 points. Us and Inter can only arrive with 10 points. All is possible in football. But now we need to focus on Arsenal on Sunday — another massive game for us.”