Kane v Chiellini and other key battles that could decide Tottenham v Juventus

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Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping his Tottenham side build on their slender advantage over Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Spurs drew 2-2 in Turin, with two away goals placing much of the pressure on the Turin giants ahead of Wednesday’s tussle at Wembley.

And, with much at stake, here we take a look at three key battles which could go a long way in deciding the outcome.

Harry Kane v Giorgio Chiellini

Both players are pivotal for their respective sides, with Kane continuing to establish himself as one of the world’s most prolific attackers.

The 24-year-old netted one goal against the Old Lady in the first leg in Italy and will be aiming to punish the defending Serie A champions on home soil.

The Englishman has scored 37 goals in 39 matches in all competitions this term – and has an incredible eye to nip in front of the defender and pounce at the business end – even against a granite-like defence that includes Chiellini.

A colossus in the Juve backline, the 33-year-old veteran is still a central figure to Massimiliano Allegri’s team and will be tasked with keeping Kane on a tight leash

That won’t be easy though, with the Spurs frontman having the ability to orchestrate proceedings when he has the ball at his feet and ghost into goalscoring positions, feeding off ammunition from the likes of Christian Eriksen.

Mousa Dembele v Miralem Pjanic

The Belgian bossed the opener against Juve, earning a catalogue of plaudits and reinstating his reputation as one of the best central midfielders around when fully fit.

Consistency and frequent long-stay spells on the treatment table have restricted him in the past but the 30-year-old should be in buoyant mood to secure Spurs’ passage through to the last eight.

Dembele needs to use his physicality and movement to sit deep and monitor Paulo Dybala’s influence on the game – as the Argentine is a genuine match-winner.

But in Pjanic, the Bianconeri also have an elusive playmaker who is a master at finding space and wrestling out of tight positions.

The Bosnian has created 13 chances and made 12 key passes in Europe this term – which is nearly 80% higher than Dembele’s contribution for the Premier League side, who remain unbeaten in the competition.

This battle in the middle of the park will be fascinating.

Davison Sanchez v Gonzalo Higuain

With Toby Alderweireld sidelined due to a hamstring injury, Sanchez will have his hands full as he attempts to curtail the impact of Higuain.

The Argentine was emphatic in the first leg – scoring a first-half brace – and has netted 24 goals in all competitions this season for the Turin side.

A menacing presence in the air, the Colombian will be looking to close down Higuain at every opportunity in a bid to keep Spurs on the front foot.

Sanchez’s pace and sheer presence could lead to problems for the visitors, and if the 21-year-old can stamp his authority on the game – using his combative style – then Higuain may struggle to dominate.

The Juve attacker is not the most athletic footballer but possesses clinical finishing and the experience to out-think a player who is new to big-game scenarios.

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Juventus star Gonzalo Higuain set to start against Tottenham

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Mauricio Pochettino will be hoping his Tottenham side build on their slender advantage over Juventus in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Spurs drew 2-2 in Turin, with two away goals adding pressure to Juventus as they travel to Wembley for Wednesday’s game.

Serge Aurier is suspended after picking up a yellow card in the first leg, while Toby Alderweireld is sidelined with a hamstring injury.

Otherwise, Pochettino has a full deck of cards to select from, with Harry Kane to sparhead proceedings in attack.

The Argentine’s only tough decision will be whether to start Lamela or Son on the left – but based on recent form – he’ll opt with the latter.

However, Massimiliano Allegri will have to defend well or attack with purpose as they attempt to advance to the last eight.

The Juve boss has a number of injury concerns of his own.

Gonzalo Higuain – hero of the first leg – didn’t feature in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Lazio but is set to return to the starting XI after recovering from a minor ankle injury.

Elsewhere, Juan Cuadrado, Mattia De Sciglio and Federico Bernardeschi are still unavailable for the Bianconeri.

LIKELY TOTTENHAM XI (4-2-3-1):

Lloris (GK)
Aurier (RB), Sanchez (RCB), Vertonghen (LCB), Davies (LB)
Dembele (CDM), Dier (CDM)
Eriksen (RWF), Alli (CAM), Son (LWF)
Kane (ST)

LIKELY JUVENTUS XI (4-3-2-1):

Buffon (GK)
Asamoah (LB), Chiellini (LCB), Benatia (RCB), Lichtsteiner (RB)
Matuidi (LCM), Pjanic (CDM), Khedira (RCM)
Dybala (LM), Mandzukic (RM)
Higuain (ST)

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Jurgen Klopp assures Adam Lallana still has key part to play for Liverpool

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has reassured Adam Lallana he still has a key part to play for the remainder of the season.

The England midfielder has not started a match since the FA Cup win over Everton in early January after two setbacks from a thigh problem saw him miss the first four months of the campaign.

Lallana has managed just 186 minutes of Premier League action since making his comeback from that pre-season injury in November, but against Porto he could be in line for his first European appearance since the 2016 Europa League final defeat to Sevilla.

“Adam, absolutely was an integral part of the team and with the competition we have for Adam it is still usually not a problem for him, because he is important to us,” said Klopp.

“But he needed only time. Life is to learn from your mistakes and we all have to learn.

“We made this mistake – he looked fit. Maybe two little setbacks, not the biggest setbacks, but in and out, in and out, and that makes so sense so now we have to build with him. He is coming close.

“But of course he now has now no rhythm, which is another thing. We still need him, we will use him still.

“He is cool, he sees the quality of the team is good, but he is always one of the guys who push the level in training on to the next level, because he is always so intense in all the things he is doing.

“So the time will come for him 100 per cent. Whether it is tomorrow, I don’t know.”

The Reds have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals as they defend a 5-0 lead when they host Porto at Anfield on Tuesday.

Klopp will resist the urge to make sweeping changes despite the fact that only an historic comeback by the Portuguese club will stop his side coasting into the last eight.

That could mean the likes of 32-goal Mohamed Salah, who has played 3,060 minutes for his club this term, and 22-goal Roberto Firmino (3,053) will feature in what is essentially a dead rubber.

“They are all desperate to play, to be honest. When I said we will not rest any players I was thinking more that we will bring the best team we can have for this game,” added Klopp, who insists he will not have one eye on Saturday’s trip to Manchester United.

“We will bring them in for this game and not for the game after that. You have to show up or anything else leads to more problems.

“If you change anything it is for this game and not because we play Manchester United. You must do your best, show respect and keep the momentum going.

“So I will have a few talks with the boys, but no talks will be about, ‘Do you want (to play), do you not want (to)?”

Salah has scored in nine of the last 10 matches and a goal on Tuesday would see him equal the club record of goals in eight consecutive matches set by Dick Forshaw (1924-25) and John Aldridge (1988-89).

He would be an obvious man to rest but Klopp does not know whether keeping him playing is best for someone on such a scoring streak.

“These things are good for him. Both ways,” he said.

“They are playing Saturday and Saturday and there is rhythm in that as well so we could say that is OK – do we need a Tuesday game for the rhythm?

“I’m not sure. I don’t think there is a 100 per cent answer.”

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