Champions League Preview: Tottenham Host Barcelona

FC Internazionale Milano v Tottenham Hotspur FC - UEFA Champions League Group B Christian Eriksen of Tottenham Hotspur celebrates at San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy on September 18, 2018. (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Match day two is upon us in the 2018 Champions League. One of the marquee games involves Barcelona travelling to London to take on Tottenham. There will be plenty of star power on display in this one. Combined with Inter Milan and PSV, Group B is looked at as one of the tougher groups in this season’s Champions League. That makes each game in the group stage important in terms of gathering the points necessary to advance to the knock out round.

Tottenham Host Barcelona in the Champions League

Match Day One Review

Barcelona enjoyed a convincing 4-0 victory over PSV in their first group stage contest. Lionel Messi had a hat-trick, including a brilliant free kick in the first half. Ousmane Dembele added a goal in the 74th minute as well. Things went according to plan right up until the 79th minute when defender Samuel Umtiti picked up his second yellow card and was sent off. The French centre-back will miss this week’s contest in London.

Tottenham did not get their group stage campaign off on the right foot. Christian Eriksen’s strike gave them a second-half lead with his first goal on the season. Unfortunately, as has happened too often this season, Spurs defence could not hold its focus until the end. Inter scored two late goals including one in stoppage time and were able to steal the victory. After 84 good minutes, it all fell apart. Mauro Icardi hit a wonder strike from outside the box, and then Tottenham allowed yet another goal from a set piece.

Recent Form

Since their rousing 4-0 victory on matchday one, Barcelona have not won a game. They have two draws and a loss in the two weeks since. Messi did not start in this past weekend’s draw with Bilbao, instead coming on as a second-half substitute. Presumably, this was to have him fully rested for Wednesday. The Spanish side currently sit atop La Liga with 14 points after seven league games. Barcelona have 24 goals in nine games across three competitions so far this season. Scoring is rarely an issue for this squad, as they have a multitude of talented attackers. Coming into to this contest winless in their last three games will add some pressure on them.

Tottenham’s loss to Inter was their third defeat in a row. Things were beginning to unravel a bit, as injuries, the inability to defend set pieces and allowing late goals were becoming recurring issues. Since that defeat, Spurs have won three in a row. They scored two goals in each game. Tottenham were also finally able to get a clean sheet on the weekend. Harry Kane had a brace on Saturday and seems to be more himself over the last few contests. Erik Lamela was rested at the weekend but he will likely start midweek as he has been Tottenham’s best player in this young season.

Early Game, Big Importance

This game will hold a high level of significance for both teams. Barcelona will look to end their winless streak and firmly position themselves atop Group B. Tottenham need all three points or they risk falling too far behind in the group after only two games. The Spanish powerhouse have their sights aimed towards ending Real Madrid’s reign and raising the Champions League Trophy again. A second group stage win would set them up nicely moving forward to qualify for the knockout round as fast as possible. Tottenham are looking to solidify themselves, not only as Champions League regulars but as a team that can compete with the best in the world. If they want to advance further than their Round of 16 exit a season ago, they need maximum points at Wembley this week.

Each of these teams have an abundance of attacking talent. There should be plenty of eye-catching football to entertain on Wednesday. Both squads have also had their issues in defence this season. Barcelona will be without the suspended Umtiti at centre-back. That is not ideal with the likes of Kane, Son and Lucas Moura to deal with. They will also be without defender Sergio Roberto and new signing Malcom. Spurs have had issues conceding late goals, and handling set pieces. They cannot afford to allow Barcelona any easy chances and have to stay focused until the final whistle. Both teams need these three points badly. This match should be quite intense and has the possibility to be a high scoring affair.

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