Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said he expects the home Red Star Belgrade fans to generate a fervent atmosphere when the two teams clash on Wednesday in a potentially explosive Champions League fixture.Red Star’s Rajko Mitic stadium is renowned for it noise and electric atmosphere on European nights, as Champions League holders Liverpool found out in a 2-0 group-stage defeat in the Serbian capital last season.The encounter could also prove pivotal for qualification with one point separating Spurs and Red Star in Group B.“I heard many things about this stadium and it’s going to be fantastic to be here tomorrow,” Tottenham’s Argentine boss Pochettino told a news conference on Tuesday.“We respect Red Star a lot but at the same time we need to play in the best way and be ready to fight because it’s a new stadium to play in.”Spurs captain Harry Kane said he hoped there would be no repeat of the racist abuse England players suffered in Sofia during last month’s Euro 2020 qualifier.The match in the Bulgarian capital, which England went on to win 6-0, was twice stopped under a three-step UEFA protocol after England’s black players were abused.“Hopefully it doesn’t happen and we play a football match tomorrow,” he said. “It will be a tough football match and we focus on that. If it does happen there is a UEFA protocol in place like there was in Sofia.”Red Star coach Vladan Milojevic ruled out any possibility of the Serbian club’s fans causing trouble.“I hope Spurs fans turn up in numbers because they will be completely safe here,” he said.“We have quite a few players coming from different continents and backgrounds so racism has no place here. We will show our hospitality tomorrow.”Speaking about Red Star’s chances of avenging a 5-0 defeat by Spurs in the reverse fixture, Milojevic said:“This is not PlayStation, it’s real life. Taking the game to a team like Spurs is easier said than done, but we will do everything humanly possible to play our best football and get a result.”Spurs are second in the group on four points from three games, one ahead of Red Star and five behind leaders Bayern Munich who thrashed them 7-2 in North London last month. Bottom team Olympiakos have no points.After a rocky start to the season in the Premier League, Pochettino acknowledged beating Red Star would be vital for morale.“The most important thing is to be in the next stage of the Champions League, but a win would also be massive for our confidence,” he said.
Month: May 2020
Jose Mourinho is unconcerned by Chelsea’s transfer ban being lifted and believes his former club may struggle to strengthen their team even with a “multi-million budget”.Frank Lampard’s Blues are free to sign players in January after their two-window ban was halved after appealing against the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).Spurs are currently nine points behind their top-four rivals in the battle for Champions League qualification ahead of Saturday’s home game against Burnley.Tottenham boss Mourinho, whose second spell at Stamford Bridge ended in 2015, expects the reduction of the FIFA sanction to have minimal impact.“I’m not worried with that. First of all, I’m not looking to the distance we have to Chelsea,” said Mourinho. “Between us and Chelsea there are still two or three teams, so you cannot look so high and so far in this moment.“The second situation is for me that it’s not easy to get better players than they have – they have very good players.“I don’t think even with a ban or even with a hypothetical multi-million budget to spend, I’m not very, very sure they can get much better players than they have.”Mourinho suffered his first defeat since succeeding Mauricio Pochettino when Spurs were beaten 2-1 at Manchester United on Wednesday evening.Out-of-favour midfielder Christian Eriksen, whose contract expires at the end of the season, was once again used as a substitute in that game.The Denmark international has yet to start a match under his new manager and has been linked with a free transfer move to Old Trafford.Mourinho has spoken to the 27-year-old about his future and says the club is more important than individuals.“My feelings are until I have anything official, rather than hypothetical things and speculation, there is not much to comment,” said Mourinho.“Of course I have had a conversation with him, of course I have to defend the best interests of my club.“My club is more important than my players and my players are more important than me. But the club is more important than any one of us, so that’s the way I think.“I’m not going to answer you. I think that’s him that has to tell you.“Is he a fantastic player? He is. But the situation is that I have to think first in the club interests.“What we spoke, I am perfectly fine with it. I have absolutely nothing to hide.”During the midweek defeat to United, Spurs conceded twice for the fourth consecutive match of Mourinho’s short tenure.The Portuguese, who will rest his players in next week’s Champions League dead rubber against Bayern Munich, admits his porous backline needs tightening but says it will take time and is eager to avoid reducing the team’s goal threat.“We have to sort out our defence without losing what we have in attack,” he said. “We concede two goals in each one of my four matches but we score in all of them, we could score even more than we did.“But we are conceding too much and we are conceding cheap goals and we have to try to stop it. The best way to do it is to work, (but) we have no time to work (at the moment).“Let’s wait a little bit until next week where we have the Bayern match. That will be a match when I am going to rest some players, so I will work with the players who are not going to be involved.”Goalkeepers Hugo Lloris and Michel Vorm, defender Ben Davies and winger Erik Lamela remain sidelined for the visit of the Clarets.