UEFA Champions League 2018-19 Preview: Tottenham v Barcelona
Enersto Valverde and his players will have to put Barcelona's poor results at the weekend behind them quickly, as the Catalan's travel to England to face Tottenham Hotspur. Spurs are under pressure themselves, though, having surrendered a lead away against Inter Milan in the previous group game and could easily face elimination at this stage if they remain pointless after this match. This is one of the standout ties of the second group stage matches and Wembley's big pitch will allow the quality players of both sides to express themselves.
Huddersfield 0-2 Tottenham (Premier League)
A first half Harry Kane brace saw Tottenham stroll past a Huddersfield Town side that is still without its first win this campaign. Kane first scored with his head and then from the penalty spot as Spurs rise to 4th place in the Premier League. The home side had their chances, though, but failed to convert on another poor afternoon for The Terriers. The Lilywhites looked comfortable throughout but manager Mauricio Pochettino was forced to substitute both Jan Vertonghen and Moussa Dembele at half-time due to injuries sustained in this game.
Barcleona 1-1 Athletic Bilbao (La Liga)
Also on Saturday, Barcelona required a late Munir El Haddadi goal to salvage a point against Athletic Biblao at the Camp Nou. The Blaugrana typically had the lion's share of possession and almost all the opportunities to score, but it was the visitors who took the lead late in the first half through Óscar de Marcos. Jordi Alba lost his man and the Basques incredibly drew first blood. Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and even Lionel Messi all spurned chances to equalise and it took Munir to tap in a Messi rebound to regain parity. Barcelona will have to be more clinical if they're to get anything on Wednesday night.
Pochettino revealed that Deli Alli will miss this game due to his reoccurring thigh problem. Moussa Dembele, Jan Vertonghen, Christian Eriksen and Hugo Lloris are all doubts for this match, however, some could start. In particular, Vertonghen and Dembele, who have both played down their injuries. With Lloris a doubt and Michel Vorm out due to his injury, that'll mean Paulo Gazzaniga will remain in goal, with 19-year-old Alfie Whiteman starting on the bench against Barcelona. Overall, it's the same 11 that started against Huddersfield, but don't rule out Victor Wanyama or Moussa Sissoko starting if the injuries worsen.
Sergi Roberto will miss this match due to injury, with Nelson Semedo the most likely replacement for the Spaniard, but I believe Coutinho will be moved into midfield with Ousmane Dembele coming back into the 11. There's a possibilty for Sergio Busquets to re-enter the fray, but with a midfield as packed as Barcelona's it'll be a challenge for him to force his way back in. Elsewhere, Samuel Umtiti should return after serving his La Liga ban.
Key Player: Luis Suarez
Luis Suarez was already one of the most prolific goalscorers in the world before he joined Barcelona, and the Uruguayan has improved like a fine wine as he's aged. He's scored 25 league goals or more in the past 3 seasons and is in decent form this campaign too. Suarez knows Tottenham well from his time at Liverpool and knows the back of the net even better. With service from the likes of Messi, Coutinho and Rakitic, you'd be a brave man to bet against him scoring.
Home away from Home for Spurs
Tottenham have been the butt of many a joke this season with regards to their new stadium. Spurs said goodbye to the old White Hart Lane at the end of the 2016-17 season and were meant to have the new stadium finished for the beginning of this one. That hasn't happen, though, with delays a plenty for safety concerns. The Lilywhites really struggled at Wembley when they first moved there but have been doing better as of late. Every game is a bit of an away game for the North London side, they even had to play their "home" Carabao Cup match at Milton Keynes' ground. Barcelona will pose a real threat to Spurs, even without the lack of home advantage, this will be not much short of the ultimate challenge.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-3 Barcelona
Danny Rose has come out in the media and stated that this is a "must win" game for Tottenham, but I don't believe Spurs will get one. With Wembley's huge pitch allowing the likes of Coutinho, Suarez, Rakitic, Dembele and Messi space to thrive in, Barcelona will be scoring. Spurs are an impressive side, but I don't think they have the quality to really hurt Barca, although I do think that Kane will get Tottenham on the board. Spurs will have to pick up all 6 points against PSV in their next two games to have any hope of making the knockout stages.