This Wednesday sees Spurs face Juventus in the second leg of their last 16 champions league tie. After a dominant display (the first 10 minutes aside) in Turin – many pundits and fans would expect Spurs to progress at Wembley.
Many pundits this week including Glen Hoddle have stated that Wednesdays game is a defining moment in the clubs history. Yes, Spurs have reached the quarterfinals in the UCL before but this Spurs team is different.
The Spurs under Redknapp were a good side – but the feeling back then was that the good season they had was a bit of a one off. That side were viewed as top 4 contenders but they were still a little way off being viewed as genuine title contenders.
This side is different, the past two seasons have seen Spurs challenge for the league title, play champions league football consistently and challenge in the FA cup. Currently, in the league they are on a 17 match unbeaten run and are starting to look like the side many predicted could challenge for the title at the start of the season.
Despite Pochettino downplaying the need for a trophy – this spurs side has to start competing consistently for titles. In my lifetime this is the strongest Spurs team I have ever had the opportunity to watch – with world class talents such as Kane and Eriksen still to potentially reach their peak – Spurs fans know that in order to keep these talents, the titles need to follow.
If you had asked Spurs fans at the start of the season what represented their best chances of silverware – the majority would have targeted domestic success. Only the most optimistic Spurs fan would have believed that Champions League glory was a realistic target.
Having been drawn in a group with Real Madrid and Dortmund the consensus was that Spurs would do extremely well to sneak into the second qualifying spot. However, the way they qualified by beating Dortmund home and away as well as the inspired 3-1 dispatching of Madrid, put Spurs firmly in the conversation as potential dark horses for this seasons champions league title.
Fast forward to the 15 minute mark in Turin and it had appeared that Spurs Achilles heel had returned. Spurs were once again over awed by the occasion and seemed to shrink in the atmosphere. Panic had set into the Spurs side and after 15 minutes it looked like a case of how many they would lose by.
But instead what happened next surprised me and pundits alike.
Juventus thinking that the tie was already done, dropped deep and allowed Spurs to start playing. Dembele was majestic – Kane a constant threat and Eriksen produced arguably his best performance in a Spurs shirt.
Spurs emerged with a 2-2 draw which was a result that flattered Juve and it felt that a corner had been turned. It was a performance loaded with maturity and heart and put the rest of Europe on notice.
Ar Wembley Spurs have a real opportunity to progress. If they can beat Juventus and add them to the prestigious names of sides that Spurs have already dispatched – why couldn’t this side have a chance of progressing further in the competition?
A kind draw could see Spurs face teams like Liverpool, Man Utd, Roma or Shakhtar or even Chelsea. Of course there are no easy games at this stage but these teams shouldn’t have Spurs quaking in their boots.
Wednesday will determine that Spurs are a side who can genuinely compete and potentially win trophies at the highest level or it will be another moment where Spurs are the nearly men.