Arturo Vidal crucial to the Barcelona 4-4-2 as Tottenham await at Wembley

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It’s a game Tottenham simply can’t afford to lose after the last-gasp gut-punch inflicted by Inter Milan in their Champions League opener.

If there’s any time to face Barcelona it is now, however, as the Blaugrana stumble into Wembley having picked up two league points out of a possible nine against modest competition.

Meanwhile, Spurs have built up a sizable head of steam, with two league victories sandwiching a come-from-behind penalty shootout win against in-form Watford in the Carabao Cup.

Where will the game be won or lost? We’ve looked at two of the biggest factors below.

BARCELONA TACTIC POINT

aleix-vidal

AS screamed ‘4-4-2’ on its front page on Tuesday, as Ernesto Valverde reportedly turns back to his tried-and-tested tactic in a bid to safeguard Barca’s group stage passage – and perhaps his job.

The silk-steel hybrid at Barca is officially kaput. A fresh-legged Andres Iniesta and a tactically astute Xavi used to help Sergio Busquets out with the donkey work, but Barca simply no longer have that dynamism on and off the ball to accommodate three out-and-out forwards. Sorry, Ousmane Dembele.

Therefore if Valverde does break Barca’s purist tradition – again – Arturo Vidal becomes so important.

In layman’s terms he is a monster upgrade to Paulinho, harrying and accosting players off the ball and potent on it (he delivered a pinpoint pass to Luis Suarez against Athletic Bilbao from which the Uruguayan should have scored).

Among the Tottenham ranks Dele Alli is out, Mousa Dembele is touch-and-go and the midfield combo of Eric Dier and Victor Wanyama is not the slickest.

Barcelona will have the lion’s share of the ball, but if Vidal can also disrupt Tottenham ball at source, he’ll plate up plenty of problems for Mauricio Pochettino.

TOTTENHAM TALKING POINT

Lucas-Moura-Tottenham

Barca’s 4-4-2 romped to the La Liga crown last season – but Roma ran roughshod over it while surging towards one of the great Champions League comebacks.

Kevin Strootman, Radja Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi all played the part of a schoolboy bully to disrupt Lionel Messi and Co’s rhythm.

Tottenham don’t have the same options in the middle of the park but they can take a leaf out of Roma’s play book by flipping ‘directly’ to the right chapter.

Roma pinged balls over to Edin Dzeko all evening to the dismay of Gerard Pique, whose form is currently the stuff of nightmares.

Instead of Harry Kane though it will likely be Lucas Moura who leads the line, as he has done often this season in the Premier League.

His blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pace is sure to trouble the leaden-footed Pique as well as Barca rookie Clement Lenglet – just as Inaki Williams did for Athletic on the weekend – while Kane can drop deep to create space between the lines and bail out his midfield.

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Lopetegui yet to decide if Courtois or Navas will start for Real Madrid against CSKA Moscow

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Real Madrid have two world-class goalkeepers at their disposal.

Real Madrid head coach Julen Lopetegui is still mulling over whether to play Thibaut Courtois or Keylor Navas in goal for Tuesday night’s Champions League clash against CSKA Moscow.

Costa Rican Navas started during the home win over Roma earlier this month while former Chelsea star Courtois seems to be the favoured option for La Liga matches.

It remains to be seen who Lopetegui will go for in Russia, having described both keepers as “magnificent solutions”.

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Lionel Messi the hat-trick king and more essential stats for Tottenham v Barcelona

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It’s a game that Tottenham simply can’t afford to lose after the last-gasp gut-punch inflicted by Inter Milan in their Champions League opener.

If there’s any time to face Barcelona it is now, however, as the Blaugrana stumble into Wembley having picked up two league points out of a possible nine against modest competition.

Meanwhile, Spurs have built up a sizeable head of steam, with two league victories sandwiching a come-from-behind penalty shootout win against in-form Watford in the Carabao Cup.

We’ve picked out some of the most intriguing statistics, including form, history and a couple concerning a certain Lionel Messi

What impact will Messi have at Wembley?

Lionel Messi scored his eighth Champions League hat-trick in the opener against PSV, surpassing Cristiano Ronaldo (7) for most-ever in the history of the competition.

Tottenham have kept only one clean sheet in their last seven Champions League matches, last keeping out Cypriot side APOEL at Wembley in December 2017.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side won all three home games in last season’s group stage. But, before beating Borussia Dortmund on matchday one, they had won just one of their last five home games in Europe.

Luis Suarez will fancy his chances of a goal in England, having scored four times in seven appearances for Liverpool against Spurs.

The 3-1 victory against Real Madrid last season was Tottenham’s first success at home to Spanish opponents in their sixth fixture (D2 L3). It was also only their second success in their 12 clashes against La Liga clubs.

Spurs overcame Real Madrid last season.

After losing 3-1 at Manchester City in the 2016/17 group stage, Barcelona are without a win in their last two visits to England – having won the previous three away games.

Barcelona have hit the woodwork eight times in La Liga this season, with an unfortunate Lionel Messi seeing six of his shots find the frame of the goal.

The 1981/82 European Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals was the scene of the only other game between the two sides. After a 1-1 first-leg draw at White Hart Lane, Allan Simonsen sent Barca through to the final at the Nou Camp with the only goal of the game.

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