Champions League quarter-final v Man City biggest game of my career, says Mauricio Pochettino

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Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has labelled his side’s Champions League quarter-final first leg against Manchester City as the biggest of his managerial career.

Spurs were faced with arguably the toughest draw possible when they were paired with Pep Guardiola’s side, who are still in the hunt for the quadruple this season.

They play the first of three matches in 11 days against City on Tuesday in what is only the second game at their new stadium.

The Argentinian, who has overseen wins against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund and draws against Juventus and Barcelona in this competition over the last two years, accepts that City are the better team.

Asked if this was the biggest moment of his career, he replied: “Yes, as a coach.

“Yes, it’s going to be one of the most important games. For us, it’s a bonus to have the opportunity to play in the quarter-finals with all the circumstances.

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“We respect Manchester City a lot, we know very well it’s going to be tough. It’s so easy to play and prepare and the problem is after delivering.

“City have unbelievable players. It’s going to be tough. We’re playing in the quarter-finals and the big players, the big teams love to play this type of game.

“We need to be sure to match their motivation and desire. The thing we cannot match is talent inside the pitch.

“And then it’s 11 v 11 players and we hope my team is going to be better than them.

“I know, and he (Guardiola) knows, we’re brave, we like to go forward, be aggressive, be protagonists.

“The quality of the players on the pitch is going to put the victory on Guardiola’s side but we’re going to try to be protagonists and beat them.”

Son Heung-min believes Kevin De Bruyne does not understand what it means for Spurs to play at home again after the City midfielder said he “does not care” about their new stadium.

De Bruyne suggested that Spurs will gain no advantage from playing there, saying: “Everybody talks about the stadium like it’s something special. Everybody has a stadium, everybody has supporters.”

But Spurs’ return to N17 has been long-awaited, ending a near two-year commute to play at Wembley while their new home was built.

The noise levels were extraordinary during the opening game against Crystal Palace last week and Son has vowed to ensure City see that it will not be like a game at the national stadium.

“Of course (the atmosphere can help),” he said. “Maybe the City players don’t realise, they always play at home.

“We’ve been nearly two years away from our home stadium and what we did was very positive.

“We missed home a lot and we can show them tomorrow night it’s different from Wembley at our new stadium.”

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Liverpool v Porto key match-ups as Real Madrid bound Eder Militao faces Sadio Mane test

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Sadio Mane

After a near month-long hiatus,  the Champions League returns on Tuesday for the quarter-finals.

In the night’s first legs, Manchester City travel to Tottenham’s new stadium and Liverpool host Porto.

The Merseyside team and Portuguese giants share some recent history in the competition. The two teams were pitted against each other in the round of 16 of the Champions League last season, with the former earning a 5-0 aggregate triumph.

We take a look at the key match-ups for this week’s clash between them:

Sadio Mane v Eder Militao

Eder Militao

Eder Militao

While Mohamed Salah has always been the talk of the town, Senegal attacker Sadio Mane has put on a commendable show to prevent the Egyptian’s dry spell from hurting Liverpool’s chances in the Premier League and in Europe.

The winger has scored 11 goals across all competitions in 2019 and has performed consistently. Against Bayern Munich, he hoodwinked Manuel Neuer with a cheeky attempt and later doubled his tally to give Liverpool the insurance goal.

He will be up against young centre-back Eder Militao, whose confident performances have earned a summer move to Spanish giants Real Madrid.

he 21-year-old Brazil international is very good in the air and is favourite to win the aerial duels. But will he be able to overcome Mane’s pace and provide security to goalkeeper Iker Casillas?

Moussa Marega v Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk will be tasked to stop Moussa Marega

Virgil van Dijk will be tasked to stop Moussa Marega

Moussa Marega has earned a place in the top tier of Champions League performers this season.

With six goals, the Malian is only behind Robert Lewandowski (eight) and Lionel Messi (eight) in the goal-scoring charts.

Marega has scored against every opponent he has faced in the Champions League this term. He led Porto’s comeback against Roma with a goal and an assist and will be keen to pick up at Anfield from where he left at Estadio do Dragao.

The 27-year-old poses a threat whenever he cuts inside to have a go at goal himself and is equally capable of setting a team-mate through on goal. It will be interesting to assess his performance when he faces one of the best centre-backs in Europe this season – Virgil van Dijk.

The former Southampton man has been an absolute tank at the back for Liverpool this season. The captain without an armband has led the defensive line by example and will be looking to do the same against Porto.

It’s not easy to get past the Dutchman relying on dribbling skills alone. It’s not easy to beat Van Dijk in the air either.

Marega running with intent into Van Dijk will be an interesting battle to keep an eye on.

Alisson v Iker Casillas

Goalkeeping legend: Iker Casillas.

Goalkeeping legend: Iker Casillas.

When Casillas won his first Champions League title, Alisson was just seven-years old.

Now they stand at opposite ends, guarding their posts in a crucial quarter-final game.

Marega has been a surprise package who can cause a lot of threat on the Liverpool goal and Alisson will have to stay on his toes at all times to keep a clean-sheet. But it does not stop there for the Brazilian.

Liverpool were defeated by Madrid in the final last season, with goalkeeper Lloris Karius coming out as the villain. Alisson was roped in to provide Liverpool a chance to better their run from last year and there will be pressure on him to perform.

At the other end, Casillas – who found second wind to his career at Porto – will be looking to take one step closer to winning his fourth Champions League trophy 19 years after he won his first.

The Spaniard is past his peak, but there could just be enough for one last hurrah as he looks to win a Champions League with a team that is not Madrid. Casillas will be the busier of the two keepers, with one of the best attacks in Mane, Roberto Firmino and Salah coming at him with everything they have.

This battle between a veteran and a goalkeeper who is slowly hitting peak at 26 years of age could prove influential.

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Toby Alderweireld optimistic about Tottenham chances versus Man City in Champions League

Alam Khan 9/04/2019
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Toby Alderweireld is eyeing the biggest prize in club football.

And the Belgium defender says his Spurs side will have respect, but not fear when they take on quadruple-chasing Manchester City.

The two English rivals face off in the Champions League quarter finals with the Londoners hosting the first leg at their new Tottenham Hotspur stadium.

For Alderweireld, the competition matters even more.

With a £25 million release clause to leave in the summer and linked with Manchester United, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain, a first trophy with Spurs could be a fitting way to end his four-year spell with the club.

“This is the biggest club competition in the world, all the champions of the countries come together,” he told Sport360 exclusively. “It is the biggest achievement you can get.

“We have a chance of course. Of course City are a very good team, have a lot of quality, but on our day we can beat any team. We have to be top [of our form] to get a result, but we are going to do our best.

“It’s going to be a game of high quality, high tempo, but one we look forward to.

“City just play very well, can’t say too much about them because everyone knows how good they are, with the squad they have.”

Alderweireld knows some of the City squad better than most with international team-mates Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany in the opposition ranks.

But Spurs are blessed with quality too and the recent display at Premier League leaders Liverpool offers the 30-year-old hope, despite a 2-1 loss through his last-minute own goal.

Keeper Hugo Lloris fumbled a Mohamed Salah header against the unlucky Alderweireld to gift the Reds a winner after Spurs had dominated the second half and had chances to win themselves.

“In one of the toughest games away, we showed we can play well, defend and create chances,” added the centre-back, who was also part of the Atletico Madrid squad that lost the 2014 Champions League final to Real Madrid.

“I think we defended very well, played very well. They put us under pressure in the lines, but it was hard to take this defeat.

“Especially in the second half we had our chances to kill the game, win it, and we were unlucky to lose at the end.

“I think what we showed in the second half, we have to take this to the game with City. I’m confident, especially how we played in the game with Liverpool. It gives us belief.

“It will be a special night at the new stadium. I know Kevin and Vinny very well of course and they have a lot of quality. I wish them the best, but we want to win.”

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