Pochettino hits out over Tottenham’s ‘massive disadvantage’ in Dortmund


Mauricio Pochettino has complained bitterly about Tottenham’s lack of preparation time for their Champions League second leg at Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday night. As was the case before the first leg at Wembley, which Spurs won 3-0, the Bundesliga leaders have been afforded an extra day.

Spurs drew 1-1 with Arsenal at Wembley in the Premier League at lunchtime on Saturday, with Dortmund having been permitted to play at Augsburg in the Bundesliga on Friday night, where they lost 2-1.

Pochettino said his players were “in the criticial day for recovery” on Monday – in other words, on day two after a big game – and he had not been able to do anything with them, bar talking, in terms of preparing for the last-16 return leg against Dortmund, which is one of the biggest games of both his and their careers.

The Spurs manager believes it is time the FA and the Premier League did more to help teams in Europe in terms of the scheduling.

“It’s impossible in this type of game, the last 16 of the Champions League – with how important it is – that one team have 24 hours more than the other to prepare,” Pochettino said. “I think it is massive. I don’t understand that both clubs are not going to arrive in the same situation. It is not the same to have 24 hours more or less to prepare for the game. We must prioritise different things and we cannot work on the pitch. It is not fair for the players and for the team who compete with a massive disadvantage.

“We need help from the FA, we need help from the Premier League, and it’s true they need to be more sensitive to this type of situation. It’s difficult already and it’s going to be more difficult. Look what happened with Rennes in the Europa League. They cancelled their game at the weekend to help provide Rennes [with more time] to play against Arsenal. In Europe the FAs are more sensitive. It is a problem that we need to change if we want to help the English clubs be stronger in the competition.”

Pochettino described his players as “warriors” and “heroes” for the way they have coped with a punishing schedule throughout the season and he urged them to forget about the 3-0 first-leg advantage, play on the front foot and finish the job on what could be a nervy occasion. Only twice have Spurs reached the quarter-final of Europe’s elite club competition – in 1962 and 2011.

“We need to play like we always play – trying to win the game,” Pochettino said. “It’s so important to be aggressive, to start the game in a very good level, with a high tempo. They will start aggressively and we need to show the same aggression.

“We cannot think about the 3-0 advantage. It’s not important now. We can’t think it’s going to be easy. If we think that, it’s going to be a massive problem.”

Eric Dier has travelled after a recent bout of tonsillitis but Pochettino said he was not ready to start. The manager will make a late decision on Harry Winks (hip). Dele Alli (hamstring) remains unavailable but could be in contention to face Southampton on Saturday, while Kieran Trippier has been rested.


The Guardian